The health survey which was carried out in May 2012 shows that out of 383 respondents, more than 80% complained of at least one symptom, 50% of them relating to skin and eye diseases. To date, there has been no intervention and provision of any medical treatment from the Ministry of Health or from the Department of Environment. Instead, the police turned out unexpectedly.
Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee
On 11.00am 26th July 2012, 3 policemen from the Raub District visited the residence of Mr Woon Soon Fatt (aged 36), who is one of the skin disease patients residing in Bukit Koman, and interrogated him for nearly one hour. The police officers claimed that they received a police report and needed to investigate the 383 persons who participated in the recent health survey, and required Mr Woon to furnish all the patients' identities. Mr Woon refused as he does not have the data.
Police officers visiting the patient at their residence
During the questioning session, in addition to inquiries regarding Mr Woon's health condition, they made statements like, "Have you seen cyanide before? How does cyanide look like?" "You have not seen cyanide before, how can you be sure that the skin disease was caused by cyanide?" "The workers in the gold mine are healthy, why are your six family members having health problems?" The police officers also asked who organized the press conference at Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) on 20th June, why Mr Woon attended the press conference, and if anybody paid him etc.
Mr Woon revealed that the police officers were trying to convince him that the health problems were unrelated to cyanide used in the gold mining, "the chemical smell was due to some people spraying pesticide", "yellow spots on the leaves were due to weather changes" etc in response to his complaints, making him suspicious of the police's impartiality.
In another location, the police officer was also interrogating another patient Mr Hue Ah New (58 years old) who was also present at the press conference at KLSCAH. Later, the police officer printed two copies of "statements" and asked for their signatures.
Trying to spread 'white terror'?
With regards to the 'home visits', the Pahang Raub Ban Cyanide In Gold Mining Action Committee (the committee) suspect that the police are trying to spread white terror and shut the patients up. The health survey which was carried out in May 2012 shows that out of 383 respondents, more than 80% complained of at least one symptom, 50% of them relating to skin and eye diseases. To date, there has been no intervention and provision of any medical treatment from the Ministry of Health or from the Department of Environment. Instead, the police turned out unexpectedly.
The governments and the authorities concerned repeatedly demanded the residents to show proof that the health problems were related to the gold mining process. However, the authorities themselves are unable to explain why the villagers' health deteriorated ever since the gold mine commenced operation in 2009, and neither can they prove that these phenomena were unrelated from each other.
The police is responsible for law enforcement and to safeguard the people. The committee hopes that the police will carry out their duty and not act beyond their mandate to suppress villagers. It is the objective of the Committee to safeguard the environment and protect the health safety of the future generations. The Committee is apolitical and certainly not anti-government, and hope that the government and the authority concerned should remain impartial, seriously study the health issues related to the gold mining process and take necessary actions to protect the villagers from being exposed to such hazards.