From the very beginning I had reservations about the whole “Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia” Campaign. For one, it was heavily politicized and you know when that happens, truth is the first sacrifice.
The depressing thing is, the Opposition and the government are saying two contradicting things. One saying its as dangerous as nukes, the other saying it is as safe as any processing plant. It is pretty hard to find a neutral party that speaks the neutral truth. If they were neutral parties, they will be accused of being pro government or pro opposition once the other side doesn’t like what they hear.
First of all, I know politics play a big role in everyday life in Malaysia. A lot of things can’t happen without support of politicians. But one thing I learned, is that don’t trust the politicians 100%.
Regardless of which side they are on.
They all have their own agenda and often use unsuspecting rakyat to support their cause. So, I have made it a point to take what is said by politicians with some skepticism until I find proof to support their statement.
Besides, it’s part of being a wise voter.
I found a good piece on rare earth on kickdefella.net The writer explains what is rare earths and what it’s used for. Although he doesn’t bring up much about the waste management side of the processing, he brings up a lot of good point to ponder upon.
What are we protesting against?
To understand what we are protesting against, we must first get to know what products these rare earths make. After reading the kickdefella’s post, we know rare earths go into making electronic gadgets, like your iPhone, as well as a number of green technology products such as the hybrid cars, hi tech windmills producing clean energy and also energy efficient light bulbs.
So, imminently you can see that life will become stone aged without rare earths.With no doubt you need rear earth based products.
But I’m sure if most of us are not against rare earth, but the processing of rare earths on Malaysian soil because it produces radioactive waste, no? If that’s the case, why not go all the way and protest rare earth processing plants in China. Chinese (in China) are human too.
Why the double standard?
Come to think of it, I cant help but think that China is somehow involved in this protest, as they don’t want their rare earths business back home to be challenged. I mean, Mt Weld, the main area that Lynas mines their rare earths, churns out 1.9 million tonnes of rare earth minerals a year while the whole of China only exported 35,000 tonnes this year.
So as you can see it is big business.
Probably most of us have also seen the video of the victim of the Bukit Merah rare earth factory where her child was effected by the radiation from the factory. I really felt sorry for the woman, I really do. I also condemn the Japanese company that ran the plant for not putting into place proper safety precautions for the workers in the factory. However, nowadays technology has advanced so much from that time and so did safety precautions. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also proved that Lynas has met its safety standards and if you cant trust the IAEA, then you can’t trust no one. The factory that leaked radiation probably was not even certified by the IAEA.
So that leaves us with only a couple of points to protest about. First is why did they give them a 12 year tax break? Why not just 5 , 2 or 3 years? Another point to be concerned about has the Government have the integrity to admit a problem if in the worse case scenario that there was an accident at the plant and radioactive contamination happened (should not be happening because of the safety standards set by the IAEA)? Can the emergency services respond quickly and professionally enough? I mean, if you see what happened in Fukushima where even the honest-est government also lied about the threat of radiation levels when the catastrophe happened.
Well, I’m not saying that I support the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) 100% but I can say I don’t oppose it 100%. The biggest question is whether we are ready to take up the responsibility of handling a risky but very beneficial business on our soil. Would we just give up and say, we are not ready for this, or we make things happen? Besides any business has risks. The oil & gas industry has potential to pollute the environment as much as the Lynas factory.
Lynas has invested USD730 million on this plant and it will create thousands of jobs for the locals, at the plant, the docs and the supporting industries. Not to mention if the rare earth plant is up and running, what are the chances that technology companies such as Motorola will invest on building a factory nearby to take advantage of the supply of the raw materials processed at the plant? That would be a good for the countries economy.
Why I bring this matter up?
I bring this matter up not because I support Lynas. It’s just that the issue, being politicized again and again has hampered the real truth from getting out. I don’t mind if they continue on with the plant or demolish it. I don’t gain or loose anything from it.
But I just don’t want the decision to be based on half truths, lies and because of heard mentality.
I’ve seen a lot of people benefited from this issue. First of all the Opposition, then the T-shirt makers, then there was even a song or two that came out about the issue that although they may not have any monetary gain, but the have gained a lot of publicity I would say. I’m not a big fan of the government, but it doesn’t mean that everything that the oppositions does and say is right. They are merely 2 different opinions.
I guess fighting for a better government system would be a better long term struggle because a good, transparent government would know how to handle these issues professionally.