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Australian high commissioner should not be Lynas' mouthpiece

LETTER | The Australian high commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski's use of the media lately to help Lynas Corporation wriggle out of their own commitment to local regulators to remove their radioactive waste from the country is highly unethical and deplorable.

I wish to point out to the high commissioner that removing all waste from Malaysia is a legally binding, a black and white agreement undersigned by Lynas. Lynas would not have been allowed to operate from day one if they had not made this commitment.

However, the regulators and previous corrupt government, for reasons only they themselves know, have allowed Lynas to get away with not complying with this agreement over the past six years.

They have not only failed to comply with this condition, but blatantly violated our country’s laws, international best practices and their own commitments.

  • Our law says the storage area for radioactive waste must not be located in areas prone to natural disasters. About half a million tonnes of radioactive waste (water leached purification) are now piled in Lynas’ flood-prone backyard.
  • Our law says the amount of scheduled waste that can be stored onsite cannot exceed 20 metric tonnes. There are now more than one million metric tonnes piled up in the open in Lynas’ backyard.
  • Our law says the maximum 20 metric tonnes of scheduled waste cannot be stored on-site for more than 180 days. More than one million metric tonnes are piled up in the open in Lynas’ backyard over the past six years.
  • Our law says all scheduled waste must be kept in fully covered containers. More than one million metric tonnes are piled up in the open in their backyard, completely exposed to severe weather.
  • Our law says that all scheduled waste must be properly quantified, contained and labelled with the date the wastes are produced.More than one million metric tonnes are now dumped in a massive pile in Lynas’ backyard which clearly shows blatant disregard of our law.

Therefore, instead of being the mouthpiece for Lynas and continue to spin the issue on their behalf to mislead the Malaysian public, the high commissioner should do what is expected of an honourable person of his stature – to ask the company to honour the agreement to remove their radioactive wastes out of Malaysia.

I wish to remind the high commissioner that the lives of Malaysians are of equal value to those of Australians. We love our land and children as much as you do yours. 

Do not forcefully dump onto our land things that Australia doesn’t want. Only those with coloniser behaviour will fail to understand this basic moral principle.

Malaysia has perpetually lost 1 sq km of our pristine forest in the Kledang Range to build the Mitsubishi joint-venture Asian Rare Earth’s radioactive waste tomb. 

Our Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in reference to this painful episode in the history of this country had once said :

“Eventually, we agreed to bury this substance (radioactive wastes) in an area which was 1 sq km large. We had to bury it under thick cement to prevent the radiation from affecting people. 

"Malaysia lost 1 sq km of land as the area was still not safe, which also led to losses in terms of areas meant for development. 

The radiation effects triggered fear among the community, we don't want a repeat of this."

One mistake is enough. Malaysians will not tolerate a repeat. We will not sacrifice another square inch of our precious land forever to build a second radioactive waste tomb to bury Lynas’ wastes.

Mahathir and the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister have both clearly said that Lynas must remove all their radioactive waste from Malaysia by Sept 2. Fail to do so, and Lynas shall be shut down.

But the most important thing that I hope the high commissioner is aware of is this – the rakyat of Malaysia is very clear on this issue, and we will fight until the end to stop Lynas from robbing our children’s future.

WONG TACK is the MP for Bentong.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.