‘Enough of politicising Lynas,’ say residents

(Bernama) – The people residing in the vicinity of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in the Gebeng Industrial Estate near here want a stop to the issue of the rare earth minerals plant being used as political capital.

According to them, they are fed up with the issue having been long used as political capital in a negative manner when the situation on the ground is otherwise.

LAMP undertakes a complex series of refining and concentration operations to produce high-quality rare earth minerals. The rare earth oxides are shipped to Malaysia after they are mined and initially processed at the Mt Weld Concentration Plant in Western Australia.

Sungai Ular village chief Shamsul Azlin Abdul Wahid, 48, said Lynas plant which operates under the supervision of various agencies and Malaysian Law, was just like other factories operating in the Gebeng Industrial Estate.

“We initially received a lot of news about Lynas, but we decided to listen to the explanation given by Lynas management who took the initiative to meet the villagers, even before the plant started operations.

“They explained about their operations and listened to our concerns. They even asked for our views several times. Although often being politicised, they still come to visit us until this day to find out about our safety as we live close to the plant,” he told reporters when met at the Perdana talk and special prayers (Solat Hajat) held at the Sultan Ahmad Shah 1 State Mosque here last night.

He said similar to other factories, the existence of Lynas plant brought economic benefits to the population in the surrounding area, and many villagers obtained employment at the plant, including engineers.

“Lynas has been very helpful in their social corporate responsibilities in our village such as providing assistance for schooling session as well as during the Hari Raya celebration.

Shamsul Azlin said the villagers also took the opportunity to obtain information from various experts every time such meeting was held.

Meanwhile, Tok Ampat Balok, Mansor Mokhtar said the allegations that Lynas plant’s activities posed harm to the environment were also untrue as residents in Balok, mostly fishermen, did not experience such occurrences.

“We don’t see water in the river changing colour due to Lynas’ activities or hearing stories of dead fish due to radiation… besides, it is hard for us to accept that such well-regulated plant disposes unsafe sewage indiscriminately, causing environmental problems,” he said.

Mansor said he felt uncomfortable with the prolonged issues pertaining to Lynas including those on social media claiming they were residents of Balok who had been adversely affected by Lynas.

Meanwhile, Lynas human resource manager Jumaat Mansor said the plant’s employees would hold a weekly special prayers since the beginning of 2018, for the ease of their daily business.

He said the prayers that were held every Thursday at their plant in Gebeng here, also hoped for the operations of the plant that was in compliance with regulatory requirements imposed by Malaysian Law, to continue.

“We chose to hold the prayers at the state mosque tonight as today’s is the 6th day of Zulhijjah month in the Islamic calendar and there are many spiritual benefits from performing religious

Also, he said, this month was very important for the plant as the decision on its next direction as well as whether its operations would continue, would be announced on August 15.

In the meantime, Beserah assemblyman Andansura Rabu said those opposing Lynas must cease from creating more confusion as the issues had been going on for almost 15 years and it was ‘politically capitalised’ in the last three general elections.

“I was one of those who opposed in the beginning upon hearing about the setting up of Lynas plant… since the time when the area was still empty until the end of 2014. Lynas has been operating in my constituency and I am one of the residents who live closest to the plant.

“I personally monitor the development and readings in the area and found any changes in terms of environment or radiation. Lynas has been operating for seven years and I admit that I might have been mistaken in those years,” he said.