Lynas: Long-term public relations nightmare

— by Strategia
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 25, 2012

FEB 25 — It all began many years ago with MIDA (MITI) that reportedly lured and attracted this controversial polluting Lynas rare earth industry to Malaysian shores. Apparently, some promises have been made.

Then the fiasco began. Firstly, the fast-tracked approval of the sloppy PEIA by the DoE. The RIA was not even completed then. Secondly, only upon public outcries was the quietly approved and equally sloppy RIA was made available to the public by AELB. Note that the PEIA and RIA are not up to international best practices and standards, showing clear deficiencies. More public outcry over the poor governance and the regulatory bodies’ substandard competency. The government had to invite an international review panel from the IAEA to quell public anger over Lynas. The IAEA panel put forth a slew of recommendations for Lynas as well as for the Malaysian government’s regulatory bodies — showing up their deficiencies.

What a public relations nightmare for both Lynas and the incompetent Malaysian regulatory bodies!

Then, more fiasco. Various government departments and unqualified politicians made unsubstantiated claims about the safety of Lynas’ rare earth operations and radioactive products. Reports of payment to Putrajaya … a further blow to the credibility of Lynas and Malaysian government agencies. Lynas’ planned rare earth operation lacks, inter alia, a credible waste management plan, making it necessary for the government to perform a much belated public review of a new document on the Lynas new waste management plan. A “wayang kulit”, as merely days after the public review deadline, AELB issued a temporary operating licence or TOL to Lynas. More public hue and cry. AELB corrected its statement, saying it was a CONDITIONAL TOL. Strange incredible conditions. AELB credibility dashed. More public hue and cry. Another public relations nightmare!

In the meantime, Lynas grows desperate. Its shares slid upon news of the postponement of the start date of operations. Lynas high officials gave thinly veiled statements. Credibility of Lynas is further damaged. Public protests against Lynas are not expected to stop until Lynas gets out of Malaysia. Lynas seems to be a pretty good election issue nowadays.

Meanwhile, other companies are making headway to break China’s monopoly on the controversial rare earth industries. Reportedly, rare earth facilities are opening up in South Africa, Kazakhstan, etc. Siemens may not need Lynas anymore as the German government has made inroads with the Kazakhstan government for rare earth supplies. More importantly, the high-tech industries that use rare earths are gradually finding alternatives. Already wind turbines have alternatives to rare earth products. Price of rare earth products is expected to fall, and so would Lynas’ share value.

Lynas will suffer further setbacks and losses if it insists on operating in Malaysia, going by the increasingly strong and widening protests against it nationwide. Public protests are expected to rise further. It is time for Lynas to take stock of its long-term strategies. Malaysia’s “restive” public is too risky for Lynas. And Lynas is too risky for the Malaysian government. Both sides should learn to let go. Now.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 25 February 2012 - 6:51 pm

    Lynas, you should pack your bags and go back to Australia and build your processing plant in Nullarbor Desert. Don’t do unto others (you think 3rd world) what you don’t like others to do to you (yiou think 1st world) – a fundamental ethical axiom! Your own Corporate Communication head Dr Matthew James was quoted in facebook 10th June 2010 that Lynas has approvals to process Mt Weld raw materials in Malaysia, China and Australia. If you have approvals in Australia, go back esp as you consistently claim the radioactivity in Mt Weld’s thorium is low and manageable. The people are not comfortable here and don’t care a damn about the yarn that Lamp would make Kuantan as a future focal point for trade, commerce, transportation and tourism due to its location on the South China Sea, and contribute to taking monopoly way from China. They’re more concerned about radioactivity permeating subsoil to water table and its effects on health of local residents, marine life etc Besides many are suspicious of the competence of our own regulatory authorities and even the government. Public interest is overarching and should prevail over private capitalist interests

  2. #2 by negarawan on Saturday, 25 February 2012 - 11:21 pm

    Lynas, you have two choices. Go back to Australia, or build your plant in front of Najip’s house.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 26 February 2012 - 8:22 am

    Lets send the waste to each and every UMNO-Perkasa/BN leader’s house to be stored first..

  4. #4 by monsterball on Sunday, 26 February 2012 - 12:06 pm

    Cannot believe it…Australia rejected Lynas…and our government wants it in Malaysia,
    When billions are involved and concern…to be able to make billion commission and vast majority Malaysians don’t understand it.thus hey are not loosing votes…stealing billions…it is a project too nice to let it slip away from these corrupted crooks.
    However…thousands are gathered to protest.
    “1Malaysia” is working…Najib is sleeping.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Sunday, 26 February 2012 - 12:55 pm

    Thousands from all over Malaysia gathered at Kuantan to protest against the project.
    Tis good to see Malaysians care for one and another.

  6. #6 by yhsiew on Sunday, 26 February 2012 - 1:35 pm

    Lynas will not have peace once it sets foot in Kuantan.

  7. #7 by Winston on Sunday, 26 February 2012 - 2:10 pm

    Ah, now, come to think of it.
    Is this one of the reasons why the BN government is washing its
    hands off public health care?
    Diseases brought about by radioactivity are not only deadly
    but very costly to treat!
    So, once they have the 1Care in place, they can open the flood-
    gates to more businesses of a similar nature?
    No wonder both projects are being carried out in parallel!
    Do Malaysians smell a very big rat?

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