Four arrested at anti-Lynas protest

By S Pathmawathy
May 15, 11 | Malaysiakini

At least four people were arrested in Kuantan, Pahang today during at a rally organised by the anti-Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) movement.

The protestors had gathered in front of DAP’s service centre in the state capital at about 11.30am.

Barely 10 minutes into the demonstration, the police had moved in.

DAP Pahang publicity secretary Chow Yu Hui and organising secretary Lee Chin Chen as well as Khor Huey Ying and Thing Siew Shuen, from the DAP’s headquarters were arrested.

“The protest had just started for about 10 minutes.

“After speeches were delivered by the Triang rep and Pahang DAP chairperson Leong Ngah Ngah as well as member of parliament Azan Ismail (PKR-Indera Mahkota), the police interrupted and tried to grab the microphone from Anthony Loke (DAP-Rasah) when it was his turn to deliver a speech,” said DAP Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching, who was at the scene.

Teo said that after convincing the police that the representatives would stop their speeches, the four DAP reps decided to show their dissatisfaction by “lying on the anti-Lynas banner”, whereupon they were immediately arrested.

As of press time, their statements were being taken at the Kuantan district police headquarters.

According to Kuantan police chief Mohd Jasmani Yusof, the four were taken in for questioning after they refused to disperse and instead lay down on the road.

“It was the first arrest since a series of anti-rare earth protests were held here,” Bernama reported him as saying.

The proposed construction of the Rm700 million anti-rare earth plant in Gebeng, some 25km northeast of Kuantan, has sparked much public outrage over fears of potential radiation poisoning and its effects on the communities living in and around the industrial area.

Both Lynas and the government have given assurances that the plant’s operations would produce only negligible levels of radiation.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Lynas Corporation of Australia.

They also said the project would differ from the controversial Asian Rare Earth factory run by Mitsubishi Chemical in Bukit Merah, Perak, that operated in the 1980s and 1990s.

Detractors unconvinced

However, opponents of the project stressed that concerns over radiation poisoning were inevitable as there has so far been no clear plan on how and where the plant’s waste materials – said to be a major source of radiation – would be disposed.

Public dialogues by the Pahang Development Corporation (PKPN) and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) have had little effect in reassuring the public.

In a move to allay growing concerns, the authorities recently announced that the UN nuclear agency International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would set up an expert panel to advise it on the potential radiation risks of the plant.

LAMP activists had earlier ignored police warnings against an illegal assembly and managed to attract some between 100-150 people to join their protest today.

Human rights NGO Suaram condemned the arrests and urged the authorities to release those detained as they were involved in a “peaceful assembly”.

Blasting the authorities’ “continued attack on freedom of expression”, Suaram’s coordinator Yap Heng Lung also criticised the police for dispersing the crowd through force.

  1. #1 by negarawan on Sunday, 15 May 2011 - 1:25 pm

    PDRM, how shameful can you be to arrest peaceful demonstrators fighting for an issue that concerns the helath of the rakyat? Does the PDRM have the capability to fight real crime in the country? The acid splasher has been running rampant for a few months and all PDRM can do is to say that they are “closing in”. If the Singapore police force was in charge, they would have completed their investigation and arrested the culprits months ago. Admit it PDRM, you are an incompetent lot just serving your master UMNO and as long you please UMNO your KPI is always 100% even if criminals are having a field day. Shame on you PDRM!

  2. #2 by k1980 on Sunday, 15 May 2011 - 1:39 pm

    Why not build it in putrajaya?
    Lai Kwan, aged 69, still recalls how she cheerfully moved in the 1980s from a sawmill job to a better-paying position in the refinery that involved proximity to radioactive materials. She remembers that while pregnant, she was told to take an unpaid day off only on days when the factory bosses said that a particularly dangerous consignment of ore had arrived.

    She has spent the last 29 years washing, dressing, feeding and otherwise taking care of her son from that pregnancy, who was born with severe mental and physical disabilities. She and other local residents blame the refinery for the problems, although birth defects can have many causes.

    “We saw it as a chance to get better pay,” Ms. Lai recalled. “We didn’t know what they were producing.”

You must be logged in to post a comment.