Penangites Answer the Clarion Call

Unlike the other solidarity gatherings for the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally in Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, this one in Penang was the sole event which saw disruptions, with two journalists hurt during a fracas that erupted at the rally.

By Masterwordsmith

It was no ordinary Sunday evening at the Esplanade in Penang. Undeterred by the unfavourable weather conditions and limited parking space (as Jalan Padang Kota Lama and the lower end of Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah had been cordoned off due to a MINDEF event at the field), concerned Malaysians and even expatriates made their way to the Speakers’ Square to stand in solidarity with the people of Kuantan in their three-year old fight to stop the Lynas factory from producing radioactive wastes to poison our land and our people.

The protest organized by SOLIDARITI SEMALAYSIA STOP LYNAS DEMONSTRATIONS together with People’s Green Coalition, Green Voters Penang, Coalitions of Good Governance Penang, Suaram Penang and Sembang-sembang Forum was attended by about seven hundred people.

Unlike the other solidarity gatherings for the Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally in Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, this one in Penang was the sole event which saw disruptions, with two journalists hurt during a fracas that erupted at the rally.

This snapshot shows how photographers, journalists and participants having a field day capturing the antics of the pro-Lynas group who tried their best to disrupt the meeting.

According to Malaysiakini, the group of about 50 included local leaders from Umno Youth and Malay rights pressure group Perkasa.

You can see for yourself AT THIS LINK.

Compare that clip with the elegant protest of concerned Penangites AT THIS LINK.

A crowd of about 200 was already at the field when I arrived at 5.30p.m. Before the event started at 6.00p.m., the hostile group strutted into the field. When the event kicked off punctually at 6.00p.m., a few members of the crowd brazenly began to jeer at the leaders. They mocked and sneered at the crowd while insisting that they should leave as this was not an issue related to Penang.

Their cries as evidenced in the first link above were drowned by the boos and responses of the protesters. Undaunted by the outrageous display of disrespect in the highest degree, the protesters continued their protests in an orderly manner by turning their backs to those rowdy rabble-rousers who in turn, tried to break through the barricade of linked arms of those who tried to maintain crowd control.

As if summoned from forces above, the crowd began to swell to 500 and then 700. This is a rough estimate as the protesters were spread out on the stage, in the field and under the trees.

Most disappointingly, no policeman was around to aid in crowd control even though there was a police van parked outside the town hall.

The protesters gave Dr Pa Khim Ghee a warm and hearty response to his speech about the dangers posed by Lynas to our country and the world.

Penang executive councillor and Tanjung MP Chow Kon Yeow gave a very timely reminder to the crowd that both pro and anti-Lynas supporters must respect freedom of speech, especially in the Speakers’ Square. CLICK HERE for a short clip of his speech.

When Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng arrived at the scene at about 6.30pm, the crowd greeted him warmly. His speech was delayed because of the obstruction posed by members of the hostile group who were adamant to disrupt the peaceful event at all costs. In his speech to the Himpunan Hijau supporters, CM Lim Guan Eng affirmed Pakatan Rakyat’s stance against the Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng, near Kuantan, because of potential radioactive hazards.

In a calm voice, the CM advised the crowd not to be cowed by the opposing group gathered just near by.

In retaliation, the hostile group showered Lim with a barrage of vulgarities and popular Hokkien swear words. Naturally, the protesters booed at them.

Most outrageously, one brazen member even walked to the edge of the stage and shouted “Lim Guan Eng Penipu” a few times.

The CM Lim kept an elegant composure and reminded the crowd that Lynas supporters were motivated by monetary gains as it was obvious who were the cronies who enjoyed the financial rewards.

After his speech, the CM did not have a smooth exit as the hostile group started to push participants and a fracas ensued. CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

According to this Malaysiakini report:

According to eyewitnesses,two journalists from local Chinese daily Kowng Wah Jit Poh – Adam Chew and Lee Hong Chun – were struck with motorcycle helmets.

Lee, when met later, said his head was injured, and that he was hit by the pro-Lynas members while snapping shots of the group trying to stop Lim’s car from leaving the field. 

The police finally moved in at about 7.15pm, blaring sirens and demanding that the crowd disperse.

The Star today reported in SHAH ALAM that a nuclear physicist said that the potential risks of Lynas Corp’s rare earth plant in Gebeng outweighed any positive gains that could be derived from the project.

Ahmad Bongsu Hamid Tuah, who had worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in United States, said the safety, health and environment risks posed by the plant were so high that it would not have met requirements in the United States or Europe.

He added that Europe had “precautionary principles and guidelines” which made it difficult for rare earth elements to be processed on the continent.

“Furthermore, Lynas is venturing into this for the first time. It has no track record,” he said at the Selangor Says No to Lynas forum yesterday.

Read more at: Penangites Answer the Clarion Call