Putrajaya uses anti-Lynas movement for political gain, says Wong Tack

Desmond Davidson

Wong Tack says the Pakatan government ‘continues to try to pull the wool over the people’s eyes’. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 25, 2023.

PAKATAN Harapan’s former Bentong MP Wong Tack hit out at Putrajaya over the licence extension for rare earth miner Lynas, saying repeated u-turns by politicians have proved they are making use of the anti-Lynas movement for political gain.

In a statement today, he said when the first PH government extended the miner’s licence in 2018, the blame was heaped on then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad despite the decision being solely at the discretion of the minister-in-charge.

What was most disappointing, Wong said, was that the PH government “continued to try to pull the wool over the people’s eyes”.

Putrajaya yesterday announced it will allow Lynas, which has been operating in Pahang since 2012, to import raw materials containing natural radioactive material and process rare earths until March 2026 after a long-running regulatory battle.

Wong said the government agreed to extend Lynas’ licence and lift the “cracking and leaching” condition just because Lynas said it can remove thorium from the raw materials and radioactive wastes, which can then be sold.

That, he said, sounded all too familiar.

“I am sure many can recall Lynas had also said its wastes can be recycled into building materials and fertilisers.

“It is unbelievable to see our decision-makers continuously falling for this same old trick for the past 12 years. Are they stupid or just playing stupid?” he said.

Wong said if the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang truly places the people’s wellbeing above profit, he must  compel Lynas to prove that its “experiment” works by having it remove the thorium from the more than a million tonnes of radioactive wastes it has stockpiled.

“It is extremely irresponsible of the minister to extend Lynas’ licence and allow it to generate more waste when the existing waste has not been safely dealt with,” he said. – October 25, 2023.

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