Lynas - cabinet must uphold 'Promise 39' of manifesto

Wong Tack


MP SPEAKS | After a series of expensive advertorials by Lynas in almost all local mainstream media, it was reported by the media yesterday that an “unnamed official source” said that the cabinet will make a U-turn on its demand to compel Lynas to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia as a condition for its licence renewal. 

This source also claimed that the cabinet will instead direct Lynas to build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for which Lynas will have to fork out US$50 million to finance.

I must say that I seriously doubt the credibility of this “unnamed official source” because his/her statement implies that our Pakatan Harapan government is so darn foolish that they would think that a meagre US$50 million is sufficient to deal with Lynas’s massive amount of radioactive wastes for eternity.

Lynas’s radioactive waste contains Thorium radionuclides which are cancer-causing and has half-lives of 14 billion years. This means Lynas’s radioactive waste will remain hazardous to human beings for up to billions of years. Lynas’s waste is a permanent problem.

As of May 18, 2019, the accumulated radioactive waste (WLP) piled up in Lynas’s backyard stands at 580,362 metric tonnes. This amount is an increase of 128,798 metric tonnes in comparison to the figure announced by the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) on Dec 4, 2018.

The US$50 million is probably just enough to cover the cost of building the PDF structure which may last for only 300 years. The cost to rebuild the PDF after it has collapsed, the cost to lease a huge piece of our precious land for billions of years (Malaysia has forever lost 100 hectares of pristine forests near Bukit Merah to bury Japan’s Mitsubishi’s joint-venture Asian Rare Earth radioactive wastes [below]). 

The opportunity cost, the long-term management as well as maintenance cost and most importantly, the health risks and harm to the environment have yet to be factored in. We must never allow Lynas to pass on all these costs to our children and burden them forever.

Back in May, the MESTECC minister Yeo Bee Yin ordered the return of 450 metric tonnes of contaminated plastic wastes back to the countries of origin. She has also aptly labeled the waste importers as traitors to the country. The nation applauded.

And about two weeks ago, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin announced that all illegal plastic factories and landfills in the country would be shut down within a year in order to give Malaysia, which has been labelled a waste importer, a clean image. The nation again applauded.

The massive support of the people towards these highly commendable efforts of our two ministers clearly shows that Malaysians are environmentally responsible citizens who care for the wellbeing of our children. Malaysians will never allow our beloved country to be used as dumpsites for foreign toxic wastes.

If importers of contaminated plastic wastes are labelled as traitors to the country, what would the rakyat think of political leaders who allow this country to be the dumpsite for the huge amount of Lynas’s radioactive waste?

With that, I strongly urge the cabinet to uphold "Promise 39" of the Harapan manifesto which clearly states the Harapan government’s commitment to protect the people’s welfare and maintain environmental sustainability as well as not to be dictated by large corporations and their crony capitalists.

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.

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