Chameleon-like policies

TRY and Google for images of a chameleon, and the results are mostly photos of the reptile in green.

M Hamzah Jamakudin, NST

The unique animal is famous for its ability to change colours to blend into the surroundings and trick its predators. Some species can change to different combinations of colours, including green, red, light blue and yellow.

Interestingly, there are also people who can change their ‘colours’ when the need arises, as being demonstrated by Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack.

Since the inception of the green movement two years ago, Wong has always stressed its main aim was to fight against harmful projects such as the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan and Raub Australian Gold Mining (RAGM) which uses cyanide at its facility in Bukit Koman, Raub.

As green is Himpunan Hijau’s favourite colour, it is no surprise to find on Google search various photos of Wong in a green T-shirt.

Soon, we can expect to see more colours of Wong’s shirts after he announced his candidacy for the Bentong parliamentary seat under the DAP ticket.

He may don DAP’s white-and-red T-shirt, or even the light-blue and darker shade of green preferred by PKR and Pas respectively.

It is not the colour of his shirts that matter most but his shifting stands, particularly on the issues he had been championing before.

Acting more like a politician nowadays, Wong has made an about-turn on his opposition towards the Lynas rare earth refinery – agreeing with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s statement that the plant would be allowed to operate should a new public inquiry prove it to be safe.

His latest statement came as a total surprise to many as Wong made headlines last month after he threatened to burn down Lamp if the newly-elected government failed to shut it down after the 13th general election.

This will also apply if Pakatan Rakyat managed to wrest control of Putrajaya but did not fulfil its promise to close LAMP.

In a statement posted on the movement’s Facebook on Monday, Wong claimed that he had no choice but to utilise the political platform to make way for Pakatan to fulfil its promise to the people. In its manifesto, Pakatan has pledged to close LAMP if it took over Putrajaya.

The anti-Lynas groups have always pressed for the closure of LAMP. Kuantan member of parliament and PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh, for example, has told reporters that her main aim was to ensure that Lamp would never operate in the country.

The sudden change in Pakatan’s stand however, is expected as on March 8, Anwar was quoted by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald as saying that he would fast-track an inquiry into the safety of Lynas’ operations should the opposition take over as government in the coming general election.

“If Lynas can come out with a convincing argument that there is no risk to public safety and security, I will be the first to champion the plant there,” said Anwar.

The latest development proves that both the anti-Lynas and anti-RAGM campaigns are actually a political ploy to make the people hate the government and therefore, vote for the opposition.

For those who care to learn about LAMP, they will know that both local and international experts have endorsed its operation. Some have even said that it is the safest rare earth plant in the world.

United States government rare earth adviser Jack Lifton, after visiting LAMP recently, said the plant became operational behind schedule not because of technical issues but rather because of political ones.

“An environmental activist group claimed first that LAMP would release too much radioactivity, and would not be able to manage this waste. This argument has been overcome by multiple expert panels and site surveys and finally by the Malaysian courts and government, so the anti-Lynas group has now switched to the cry that the plant will emit toxic chemical wastes (as well as radioactive ones),” he wrote.

The latest turn of events involving Wong may not go down well with all Himpunan Hijau supporters.

In an immediate reaction, Himpunan Hijau steering committee member Clement Chin suggested that Wong relinquish his post to allow the committee to re-elect a new chairman to run the movement as a formidable people and not political-centred non-governmental organisation (NGO).

“Himpunan Hijau supporters will be put off with the dragging of the NGO into the political arena. The environmental issues will end up so politicised and muddled up that it loses its essence and truth with all the mud-slinging thrown at it,” he commented in the movement’s Facebook account.

Like Chin, most Malaysians have also had enough with all these chameleons who will change their colours for political expediency.

Most Malaysians would rather have the real reptile although some may find its look quite disgusting. Unfortunately, half of the world’s chameleon population lives on the island of Madagascar and not Malaysia.