Malaysia cannot force Lynas Corp to leave Malaysia after having invited it to invest in the country just because some people do not want to accept expert studies, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The prime minister said the company had invested more than RM1 billion on its operations in Malaysia, but the processing of the rare earth minerals is said to produce radioactive waste.
He said expert studies indicate that the radioactivity of this waste is "very low level" and not hazardous to health and he believes there is a way to further reduce the radioactivity.
“We invite them (to invest) and then we kick them out. Others will say the country made a promise but, when there is a problem we kick them out... we cannot do that,” he told Malaysian reporters when concluding his two-day visit to Fukuoka on Thursday.
Mahathir said foreign investors were watching the government’s action on Lynas.
"If we chase out the Lynas foreign investor, the others (foreign investors) will not come (to Malaysia).
"Because there are some (investors) whom we do not like... we ask them (investors) to leave. Who (investors) would want to come, they must have certainty,” he said.
Mahathir said if the radioactive waste was dangerous, Lynas' 600 local engineers would have fallen sick.
"The report was made by experts but there are quarters who do not accept the experts’ decision. This poses a problem if we ask the experts to make the study, but we reject it.
"What is the purpose of asking the experts to make the study?” he asked.
In addition to losing investment, hundreds of local workers would also lose their jobs if Lynas were to be closed, he said.
“The 600 workers there are our people, they are not afraid, they ask (the operations) to be continued."