DAP sheds lobster tears over grave moves

But Azalina Othman condemns objections to Petronas’ RAPID project

(FMT) – A child dressed up in a bright red lobster costume has become the mascot for a group of DAP-backed residents protesting against Petronas’ RM60-billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Pengerang, Johor.

Penny Sim, 13, who showed up in Parliament yesterday with the group, started crying when her father introduced her at a press conference, telling reporters that she too was against the project, which would allegedly displace several cemeteries and undermine local industries such as lobster fishing.

“She is crying because she is afraid, coming out to see you like this,” Sim Seng San said. “But she doesn’t want her relatives’ bodies to be shifted, and she wants the government to take care of the young people. I’m very proud of her, insisting to follow me here today.”

The group, which was with Bakri MP Er Teck Hwa, claims that the 2,000-hectare complex would cause seven Chinese cemeteries to be relocated and has tried to highlight the issue through signed petitions and a street demonstration in Sungai Kapal last May 26.

The cemeteries are located within an area of nearly 30 sq km.

According to Er, there are 72 other facilities, including Muslim cemeteries, schools, temples and mosques, which may have to be shifted because of the project.

The chairman of a group calling itself Pengerang NGO Coalition, Anis Afida Mohd Azli, told yesterday’s press conference that six Muslim cemeteries would be affected by the RAPID project.

“It’s all in a mess,” he said.

“Pengerang residents are against this. Six Muslim burial grounds will be shifted. Villagers now have nowhere to bury their dead. They have had to find their own places.”

Anis Afida also alleged that the environmental impact assessment of the project was faulty and asked the government to clarify.

At another end of the parliament building, another group of Pengerang residents held a separate press conference to express support for RAPID.

Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said was with them, and she lambasted those who complained about the relocation of graves, accusing them of lying that corpses had been unearthed and abandoned.

Foreign interference?

Accepting a memorandum from the pro-RAPID group, Azalina said the DAP-backed group represented a minority of Pengerang residents.

She also alleged that “foreign quarters” were “inciting hatred towards the project”.

She said many details of the project were still undecided.

“A lot of things are still in discussion with the state and federal governments. Any dissatisfaction should only happen when a decision is made by the state government. They are pre-empting everything.