Archive for category Lynas

Malaysia at (yet another) crossroads

— Gerhard Hoffstaedter and Greg Lopez
The Malaysian Insider
April 01, 2013

APRIL 1 — The Malaysian government and its multiple state governments have become caretaker governments and elections will have to be called before June 28 if the country wants to maintain the semblance of an electoral democracy.

Everything is at stake at these elections. Malaysia has been ruled as a country by one coalition since independence in 1957 and its hold on political power has been tenacious. The economy and society remain formidable.

Opposition coalitions have tried at every election to make inroads in a system clearly stacked against them. In 2008, there was a real breakthrough, with the opposition capturing five out of the 13 states of the federation and breaking the ruling coalition’s psychologically important two-thirds majority it had become accustomed to.

It is not easy to categorise the two opposing coalitions and its members, as they are disparate, complex, and, with multiple agendas, often fractured. The ruling coalition is run by Umno, with other constituent parties largely serving the Chinese and Indian populations as well as some indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is It Part of Our Culture?

By Kee Thuan Chye
Malaysian Digest
14th March 2013

Last week, I was speaking to students of a higher institution of learning about a play of mine that they are studying called We Could **** You, Mr Birch.

When I got to the issue of getting Malaysians to discuss so-called sensitive issues openly, one of the students commented, “It’s not part of our culture.” I asked her if she was being ironic. The bright lass nodded.

She was alluding to the favourite catchphrase of the Government that is invariably invoked when it wants to discourage Malaysians from taking part in certain activities, usually those that are adversarial or threatening to it.

One such activity is taking part in demonstrations and street protests. Many a government official has used “it’s not part of our culture” to denounce especially large gatherings that challenge the Government’s rulings and actions, like the Bersih and anti-Lynas rallies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sand, Sensibility and Singapore Bashing

by Koon Yew Yin
CPI

Every few months or so, the subject of selling sand to Singapore flares up in the media.

When this happens in the websites, the discussion takes on a polemical turn – with ‘patriots’ proclaiming how disloyal it is to sell sand to our neighbor; how we are selling out our national interests; etc.

The latest report out in the media states that a private company employed by the operator of the Tanjung Agas Gas and Oil Logistic Park in Pahang is being investigated for smuggling sand into Singapore (see http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/5/31/nation/20120531065041&sec=nation). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Dark Passage to Lynas

Charles Santiago
MP for Klang

We welcome the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee which has produced its recommendations, including the upgrading of the standards used by the AELB. But while we appreciate the effort, this is clearly a document which has only looked at ways to keep the Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in operation.

The key area – returning the radioactive waste to Western Australia – has not been looked at although it was one of the earliest pre-conditions to the government granting Lynas a Temporary Operating License.

Violating pre-requisite to the Temporary Operating License (TOL)

Over a ten-year period of the plant’s operation, the total volume of wastes will amount to 2,766,600 cubic metro. Over a 20-year period, as Lynas continues to enjoy its tax break, the waste would presumably have doubled. And it is highly inconceivable that there will be enough soil and technology available to “dilute” the wastes and remove its radiation level to natural ground level radiation. This is especially crucial as Lynas plans to store the wastes onside in the Residue Storage Facility (RSF).

The PSC recommendation has noted that some of the regulations imposed by the Malaysian government are better than international standards. But according to the Lynas document which is under review, the management of radioactive residue generated from the decommissioning activities of LAMP upon cessation of operations after 20 years are not within the scope of the Lynas Radioactive Waste Management Plan or RWMP but presented in a separate document titled “Decommissioning Plan (Environ 2011b). This is certainly not in tandem with international standards.

Malaysia is still in the midst of cleaning up after the Asian Rare Earth factory was decommissioned at the cost of USD100 million, the largest in the rare earth industry. The rare earth factory was set-up 30 years ago and we are yet to wipe out all traces of residue. Lynas will produce 20,000 tonne of radioactive material, ten times more than the Asian Rare earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas issue: Not learning from bitter experience

— Richard Pendragon
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 12, 2012

APRIL 12 — Every Malaysian should know that Australia has a land mass 58 times bigger than peninsular Malaysia. But the Australian government and people have not permitted rare earth processing to take place on Australian soil.

With a population that is vigilant and a government that answers to the people, Australia dares not permit a rare earth plant because the health and environmental risks are too high. Why does Malaysia – a country with less scientific and engineering expertise – think it is all right to go ahead with the plant?

The USA has closed most of its mines, and so has China. In inner Mongolia, vast tracts of lands and thousands of square kilometres have been rendered hazardous, with toxic runoffs destroying everything in their path, and with high radioactivity, tainting and polluting precious water supplies.

This chain reaction will continue for thousands of years.

It is a scene that Chinese officials do not want the world to see. Several villages close to rare earth plants have already been relocated because of pollution.

Malaysia is now planning to build the world’s largest rare earth plant. This is truly madness of the highest order. We must remember the Chernobyl meltdown which was not supposed to have happened and similarly too the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan.

Peninsular Malaysia would be dead meat if any unexpected catastrophe happens. Read the rest of this entry »

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So, what happened to separation of powers?

— Justice Seeker
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 12, 2012

APRIL 12 — In reaching her decision on the Lynas matter, High Court judge Rohana Yusof obviously was not interested in the separation of powers or the raison d’etre of a court system which is the attainment of justice.

I just read her reasons for not giving the residents leave to challenge the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s decision to give Lynas a temporary operating licence to run its controversial plant in Gebeng.

She said that as a parliamentary select committee and the minister of science and innovation were handling two separate hearings, it would not be proper for the courts to give the 10 residents their opportunity for judicial review.

Rohana then went on to say that it would not be proper to circumvent Parliament and the minister. Really? Read the rest of this entry »

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Leave BN to prove anti-Lynas stand, Guan Eng tells MCA

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 06, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Lim Guan Eng today challenged the MCA to prove its anti-Lynas stand by withdrawing from Barisan Nasional (BN) and standing under its own banner in the coming polls.

The DAP secretary-general cast doubt over the MCA’s sincerity in calling for the Lynas rare earth plant to be scrapped, saying the party could again change its mind after the polls to support the project.

“Therefore this is a last chance for MCA to prove its commitment to scrap the Lynas plant by withdrawing from BN and standing under its own banner at the next general election,” Lim said in a statement.

“Would (MCA president Datuk Seri Dr) Chua (Soi Lek) dare to announce that MCA would only rejoin BN when the Lynas plant is closed down?

“Any failure to do so will allow Malaysians to decide whether to trust a party that not only deceives itself but tries to deceive others,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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My Lynas concerns

By KJ John | Apr 3, 12
Malaysiakini

My questions and concerns about the Lynas project to both the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) is: Why is the development of this particular rare earths plant of such a strategic interest to Malaysia, in the light of the failed Bukit Merah project?

What kind of real or new high-skilled employment is actually generated by the project that it qualifies for a pioneer status of 12 years?

What really is the value add for Malaysian strategic interests, other than the obvious rent-seeking behaviour of local partners; cronies, or otherwise? Does a deputy minister’s brother really have a stake in this project? Why are the Australian owners dumping their rejected project and residuals into Malaysia?

No one really questions the demand or marketability of the final outputs; but, the most serious questions remains the waste generated; and my question is, why in Malaysia, and why in Kuantan?
Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas Corporation for dummies (and Australians)

— Ryan Albrey
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 30, 2012

MARCH 30 — I do not need to write a ‘for dummies’ guide for Malaysians. They have made up their minds about Lynas and are now quite knowledgeable about the issues. They have learned more about rare earth and radioactive thorium than many of us will ever learn in a lifetime and they want Lynas out of their country.

Instead, I write this for Australians for whom media coverage of this story has been sparse. It is difficult to work out why the media have paid scant attention to this story. I would have thought that this was a story made for journalists.

This story involves our relationship with Malaysia. Considering that Malaysia is one of our closest neighbours and a country whose cooperation we vigorously strive for, I would have thought that an issue like Lynas should be big news in Australia. Read the rest of this entry »

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On thorium and Lynas

— Chan Chee Khoon
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 27, 2012

MARCH 27 — The Sun declined to publish my response (below) to Dr Looi Hoong Wah’s earlier letter . In the interest of reasoned exchanges, I hope this response to Dr Looi’s latest letter sees the light of day.

In this letter, Dr Looi’s cites the Argonne National Lab’s fact sheet on thorium to argue that only a miniscule portion of thorium-232 which is ingested via food or water is absorbed into the bloodstream, of which only 4 per cent gets deposited in the liver where it is retained with a biological half-life of 700 days.

He neglects to mention that thorium-232 is much more readily absorbed into the human body via an inhalation route, and furthermore that 70 per cent of the amount entering the bloodstream gets deposited in bone where it is retained with a biological half-life of about 22 years, all that while irradiating the much more radio-sensitive blood-forming tissues there with highly mutagenic alpha-particles (20 times more damaging to cellular genetic material than beta or gamma radiation).

Could this be the reason for the cluster of childhood leukaemias observed among the children of Bukit Merah? Read the rest of this entry »

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Guan Eng: PM must halt Lynas plant construction

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 23, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak should immediately halt the construction of the Lynas refinery in Gebeng to prove his commitment to public safety, Lim Guan Eng said today.

Penang Chief Minister Lim accused the prime minister of contradicting himself during an interview with radio station 988FM yesterday, where Najib had said he would scrap the Lynas plant construction if there was scientific evidence to prove it was hazardous.

This, according to Lim, was different from what Najib had said last week — that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Lynas rare earths plant could not decide on whether the refinery would be built.

“Datuk Seri Najib Razak should publicly withdraw his March 17 remarks, order an immediate stop-work order on Lynas and declare the Barisan Nasional’s government willingness to pay compensation of at least RM700 million which Lynas spent on building the plant,” Lim said in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Western Australia says no to Lynas waste

By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 23, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Western Australian government, where Lynas Corp’s rare earths mine is located, has said it will not accept waste from the firm’s controversial refinery in Kuantan even if it is not radioactive.

Putrajaya said early this month Lynas, which plans to transport ore from Mount Weld in the Australian state, to its RM2.3 billion plant in Gebeng, had promised to send its residue abroad if it could not find a suitable waste disposal site in Malaysia.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had also said late last month the Sydney-based firm must find a way to ship the waste back to Australia, failing which no temporary operating licence (TOL) will be issued.

But Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore told the state’s legislative council that it would not allow the residue, which Lynas says it can treat to reduce its radioactivity, to be returned to its source.

“Yes, as Commonwealth legislation prohibits the importation by Australia of any waste product produced from offshore processing of any mineral resources purchased here,” he said in a written response to Mining and Pastoral Region member Robin Chapple obtained by The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakatan: No point to Lynas PSC

Patrick Lee | March 20, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

A PSC investigating Lynas’ purported radiation will have no effect, with Pakatan MPs scoffing at its advent.

KUALA LUMPUR: A Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) investigating the Lynas rare earth plant near Kuantan will come to naught, opposition lawmakers said.

Pakatan Rakyat politicians said the government had no intention to scrap the controversial plant, hence it was pointless to form a PSC to study the plant’s safety standards.

They said this after opposition MPs marched out of the Dewan Rakyat, moments after a motion tabling the PSC was approved. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP to stay out of Lynas PSC

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The DAP will abstain from participating in the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on the Lynas issue, its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today, calling the panel a “sham”.

He charged that the PSC, expected to be proposed in Parliament tomorrow, was the Najib administration’s way of legitimising the controversial Lynas Corporation plant, which activists claim would be an environmental hazard.

“DAP will not participate in a sham PSC which serves to deliver a ‘fait accompli’ by endorsing the Lynas plant and forcing public acceptance without any due regard for safety, environmental and health concerns,” Lim said in a media statement here. Read the rest of this entry »

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The pointless Lynas PSC

— Lucius Goon
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 18, 2012

MARCH 18 — Finally, the Prime Minister has come clean on something — last night he said that the parliamentary select committee on Lynas will not have the final say on the project.

Thank you, Najib Razak for this rare piece of honesty because now I will urge the Opposition and fair-minded Malaysians to boycott this committee and see it for what it really is: a public relations exercise by a government which is big on symbolism and gimmicks and nothing else.

According to Najib, the committee is supposed to engage the public and allay their fears about a project which has raised concerns about toxic waste and waste management.

Here is where the duplicity of the government shines through: they have given Lynas a temporary operating licence, have allowed the Australian company to build a plant, given them 12 years tax holiday, have rubbished fears from PKR’s Fuziah Salleh, have given the anti-Lynas movement almost no coverage in the media and have allowed the Atomic Energy Licensing Board to become a partisan outfit and now they want to have a process of consultation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Putrajaya waffles on Lynas

— Ali Kadir
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 17, 2012

MARCH 17 — Somebody in the government thinks he is pretty smart by announcing the setting-up of a parliamentary select committee on Lynas’s rare earth plant in Gebeng.

This is a familiar tactic by the Najib government. When they are caught in a pickle, they scramble for a way out. And what is really shocking is how quickly they change their tone from steadfast defence of a stance, policy or project to building consensus, all in the name of votes.

Last year, Najib Razak and his colleagues ridiculed and demonised Bersih 2.0 and the calls for free and fair elections. Then, when they realised that the rakyat were with Ambiga Sreenevasan and friends and that they were onto a hiding, they set up a parliamentary select committee.

Now, after months of defending the Lynas project and even taking over the role of spokesman and defenders of the Australian company, they are once again buckling. No less than Najib vouched for Lynas, saying that the project was scientifically and factually safe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas, hazardous waste and rotting fish head

— Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 16, 2012

MARCH 16 — Malaysians are wondering why Lynas is transporting concentrated ore from Australia to Malaysia. Many think they know the answer. I’ve made up my mind too, but it’s not because of the science/technology behind Lynas. It’s because I believe the old saying: fish begins to rot from the head; more on that later.

Do you think there are any other companies which transport ore out of Australia?

The answer is YES! There is a company listed on the Canadian stock exchange which operates a mine-cum-concentration plant in Western Australia and ships out lead ore, mainly to China.

Why do they ship ore out instead of processing it at home? Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas Corp’s absurd publicity stunts

— Iskandar Dzulkarnain
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 14, 2012

MARCH 14 — Nick Curtis the CEO of Lynas Corp had expressed his interest to meet with the Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng during the latter’s visit to Australia on March 23. Lim has politely refused to meet up with the CEO until he has discussed with the Anti-Lynas group.

Instead, he has asked Curtis to meet up with the anti-Lynas group snubbing that he is the wrong person, while the CM of Pahang should be the right person to meet with Nick Curtis.

Undeterred, Lynas Corp in a statement to Bernama, said the invitation would be kept open and the company welcomed the opportunity to help Lim understand its investment in the rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

But the truth is, what can the Penang CM do to alleviate the current controversy surrounding the Lynas rare earth plant? Would his personal opinion or intervention buy over the thousands of critics who are against the existence of the Rare Earth Plant in Pahang State?

Isn’t it more appropriate to meet with Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Pakatan Rakyat who is against the controversial project based on allegations that the Australian miner has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery?

Really, it would make more sense for the Lynas CEO to meet with the anti-Lynas group than the CM of Penang, as Penang has no say or jurisdiction towards the project in Pahang State. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas: What were the IAEA experts thinking on the plane home?

By Rama Ramanathan | March 13, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

MARCH 13 — The written word doesn’t make faces. Technical reports don’t include snide remarks. International experts don’t publicly reveal some of what they’re really thinking. I wonder what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts were really thinking when they said:

“The 1-2 tons bags of the rare earths concentrate will be transported by road from Mt Weld to Perth (or a nearby port) in 20 ton land-sea containers. From Perth, the containers will be moved on ships to Singapore. From Singapore, smaller vessels will move the containers to Kuantan. Up to Kuantan, the rare earths concentrate will be shipped as normal non-radioactive material, in accordance with international regulations. From Kuantan port, the containers will be trucked 15 km to the Lynas facility in Gebeng. Malaysian regulations require the concentrate to be treated as radioactive material.” [Adapted from IAEA International Review Mission (29 May – 03 June 2011) Report, page 27.]

Do you get it? According to international standards, the material can be handled like any soil. Then, when it lands in Malaysia, “it’s radioactive.” It’s like saying Australian apples are safe worldwide, but not in Malaysia.

This for me is the Lynas dilemma. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lynas: Why in Malaysia, not in Australia?

— Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 11, 2012

MARCH 11 — Previously I said that the root cause of the Lynas controversy is our ‘need’ for things that need rare earths. These things include cellphones, disk drives and television sets. I also said that China supplies over 95 per cent of the world demand for rare earths, and that the Lynas plant could supply up to 35 per cent of world demand.

I added that the attitude of the government of Malaysia toward its citizens is less like that of the government of Australia and more like that of the government of China. Much of what I said was sparked by the observation that Lynas has chosen to do something which seems rather strange to those who remember tin mining.

Malaysia was at one time teeming with tin mines. The tin was dug up, processed into high purity ingots and shipped worldwide. We didn’t ship ore. We shipped tin. Similarly, we don’t ship what we harvest from oil palms. Instead, we convert the fresh fruit and bunches into products which we sell worldwide. Malaysia is a world leader not only in growing oil palm, but also in processing oil palm and it’s effluents.

So, why is Australia — a mining nation — not processing the ore into the final product? Read the rest of this entry »

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