October 10, 2011
Ambiga: Make Lynas an Election Issue
by Nigel Aw (10-09-11)at http://www.malaysiakini.com
Voters should apply pressure on the government by making the Lynas Advanced Material PLant (Lamp) and other environmental troubles faced by communities elsewhere as an election issue, said Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan.
“The people should make this an election issue, they should ask their representatives what is their stance on Lynas and vote based on that,” she said after a luncheon event in Kuantan this afteroon.
Earlier, Ambiga who has thrown her weight behind the ‘Green Solidarity 109’ rally said during the event’s luncheon that the government has failed to consider to concerns of the people.
“It is not just about convincing people that the project is safe. The government has failed to consider the people’s perception and the social and financial impact of the community.”
Ambiga noted that the rare earth refinery plant being constructed in Gebeng has led to the stagnation of property development in that area.“People may also not want to buy the produce from the local fisherman and farmers (for fear of radioactive contamination)”, she said.
She pointed out that despite the government’s efforts to allay fears that the plant will cause radioactive leaks, the people remained skeptical.
“It is not that the government is lying, but the government has often in the past not provided the whole truth, therefore, people no longer believe in the government.”
‘Build Lynas in Putrajaya’
She added that if the decision-makers wanted to prove their sincerity that the Lamp is safe, they should move to Gebeng with local residents who fear for their future.
Alternatively, Ambiga suggested, for the plant to be moved to the administrative capital which houses the offices of the country’s top politicians.
“Why don’t they move it to Putrajaya? There are many empty lands in Putrajaya,” she quipped.
When Ambiga asked if the project benefited the locals in Kuantan, the hall responded with a resounding “no”.
She also pointed out that even the country as a whole would not benefit as Lynas will receive a 12-year tax exemption which ultimately meant there would be no revenue for the government.
The luncheon follows a 2000-strong rally at Taman Gelora earlier in the morning which brought together several environmental groups throughout the country whose struggle has previously been localised.