Not for PM to decide Lynas panel scope, says PKR veep

Fauziah Salleh

(The Malaysian Insider) - It is not up for the prime minister to decide the terms of reference for the parliamentary select committee on the Lynas issue, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh has said. 

This was because the terms of reference for the parliamentary panel were up to the Dewan Rakyat and not the executive arm of government to decide, she said. 

“The Cabinet and prime minister must respect as well as honour that independence. To stop making decisions and announcements for Parliament will be a first step towards that outcome,” she said in a statement yesterday. 

The PKR vice president also said Datuk Seri Najib Razak seemed bent on using the committee as a public relations tool, after he said the panel will not have the final say on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). 

This belittled the concerns of Kuantan residents who oppose the plant over safety concerns, she said, claiming the committee was nothing more than an attempt by the government to “cover up” the issue. 

“On one hand, they say they are concerned but on the other hand, actually dismissing people by not listening to what the people wants,” she charged. 

“The people in Kuantan and those living around the plant have repeated very clearly — they do not want LAMP in Gebeng. And LAMP should not be anywhere in Malaysia for that matter.” 

Fuziah added that if Putrajaya truly put the people first, as has been repeatedly stressed by the Najib administration, it would have engaged the public from the start in 2007. 

The parliamentary select committee on the Lynas issue, announced Friday, will be headed by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin. 

The select committee will comprise four Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs, three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs and one independent lawmaker. 

It will get feedback from stakeholders like regulators as well as other groups, and deliver its findings within three months. 

Najib, however, said yesterday that the parliamentary select committee will not decide on the fate of the controversial rare earth plant. 

He had said the panel was instead part of Putrajaya’s engagement process to ensure the public understood the issues at hand, according to state news agency Bernama. 

He added that he hoped the committee would raise awareness on the project so that “we can achieve comfort in terms of better public acceptance”. 

Thousands of anti-Lynas protestors attended an opposition-backed rally by Himpunan Hijau last month in the largest protest yet against the rare earth plant that is expected to fire up later this year. 

They allege that Lynas has not given enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the refinery. 

Lynas maintains that waste from the Gebeng plant will not be hazardous and can be easily recycled for commercial applications.