MP SPEAKS | On Aug 9, the concerns of the villagers of Bukit Koman, Raub in Pahang were raised in the first Dewan Rakyat sitting since Pakatan Harapan wrested federal power on May 9.
The answers provided by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar have disappointed not only the Bukit Koman’s Ban Cyanide Action Committee but also ignited discontent among many Malaysians that have long followed the struggle of the activists, judging from the views that had been expressed on the social media.
Although the mine has since discontinued its operations, the Bukit Koman residents are still facing a cyanide contaminated gold mine with toxic residues lingering in their surroundings.
As a MP that has made environmental protection and justice my core business, I, therefore, raised their long-standing worries and longing for a solution to make things right in the august House.
I had also enquired if the government intend to ban the use of cyanide in the gold mining industry and if indeed the economic benefits from such commercial activities outweigh the cost of a clean environment and public health.
No doubt, the reply from the minister was disheartening. However, as most of us are still new to the administration of the country, I would like to give the benefit of the doubt to the minister that he was not given the full picture by his officials.
Therefore, I have taken the approach of alerting him (in the corridor after the session) by citing a particular misinformed fact with the intention of illustrating the importance of ministers verifying answers provided by their respective ministries’ official.
As a government backbencher, I believe it is also my duty to work with the ministers to find solutions to our shared problems. But that does not equal being compromised.
I welcomed the minister’s intention, conveyed to me in private, that he would be happy to inspect the mine in Bukit Koman to gain first-hand knowledge. The Bentong and Raub parliamentary teams will certainly provide the necessary assistance for the visit should he require it.
Finally, we look forward to working together with the relevant ministries to work towards an acceptable outcome for the Bukit Koman case, and that the lessons learnt will be applied to ensure that the remaining three mines elsewhere in Pahang will be managed in accordance with the highest sustainability requirements.
Editor’s note: Raub Australia Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGM) has consistently denied all the allegations made against the plant and its effects.
WONG TACK is Bentong MP.
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