These "opposition"-type do not give-up so easily. Not even when they have taken over the government.
With the benefit of being in the political leadership and access to civil service support, they should have a better picture of the various considerations in any decision by government.
Lynas Advaned Material Plant (LAMP) received extension till February 15 of the temporary permit to store residue at its site. Immediately, Wong Tuan Tack, the MP for Bentong from DAP responded to urge the PH government not to repeat the mistake of the previous BN government.
It is perhaps ego to show they are right and it's not just politics. Maybe it is a matter of face after the anti-Lynas failed to prove their point at the PSC public hearing then. Probably they have something more than questioning government and various agencies for approving the licences and site, thus should not give up. Since Pahang remained with BN, it could be political.
Earlier in mid-October, Wong pledge to continue to fight on the claimed environmental cause of Lynas. He and another champion of the issue, MP for Kuantan, Fuziah Salleh, was requested to vacate the LAMP executive review committee.
The Lynas defiance is interesting on many accounts.
One being the anti-Lynas movement seemed to support China's interest and their dominance in the global production of rare earth.
Pakatan Harapan campaigned against Dato Najib's China friendly policies and when in government, immediately cancelled major infrastructure projects involving China. If they are consistent, PH would want the plant in Gebeng to continue.
More so, China's soft retaliation to cancel palm oil, rubber and durian order are giving significant impact on the local economy and rural farmers suffered.
As trade war between US and China has intensified, China has used their card as the 80% producer of world rare earth to cut production by as much as 36%. Rare earth is a "critical metals are paramount components to high strength permanent magnets used in wind turbines and electric vehicles, as well as other electronics".
Prices is expected to rise and raise concern of electric automakers, consumer electronics manufacturers, clean energy technology industry leaders and the military–industrial complex.
Last year, US consumed 11,000 tonnes from China and their industries could cripple. The West Australian reported recently:
US seeks links to mineral resourcesThe Lynas plant is Gebeng is the processing plant for the mining operation in Australia. It is the biggest plant outside of China and export to Japan and also China. If Mahathir wants to play geo-political, this is one tool.
The West Australian 15 Oct 2018 Daniel Mercer
US Consul-General Rachel Cooke, James Caruso and Perth US Asia Centre’s Jeffrey Wilson and Stephen Smith.
US Administration officials have canvassed the McGowan Government on ways for American companies to help develop WA’s battery minerals resources as a global race for technological supremacy develops.
The US acting ambassador in Australia, Charge d’Affaires James Caruso, revealed he had met representatives from the State Government last week to talk about issues including WA’s reserves of “critical minerals” such as rare earths and lithium.
China has threatened to curtail its supply to the US of rare earths as part of the increasingly bruising trade war between the two superpowers.
Rare earths are considered crucial for the production of various high-tech consumer goods such as smartphones, iPads, flat screens and electric cars.
They are also deemed vital to making military products including satellites, cruise missiles, stealth aircraft and GPS guidance systems.
Mr Caruso said WA’s abundance of the resources as well as commodities such as lithium used to make electric cars added another layer to the State’s geostrategic importance.
Speaking during a visit to Perth, Mr Caruso said Washington was keen to learn how US companies could play a greater role in the development of WA’s critical minerals sector.
“You are a hugely important source of critical minerals and rare earths, and so I think that’s of great interest,” he said. “It’s something we’re talking about with your government — critical minerals and how we work together to develop sources of supply.
“I’m actually here to listen more than anything else about how they see the prospects of development of the resources.”
After the US rebranded its military presence in the region from Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command in recognition of Asia’s growing importance, Mr Caruso said WA would increasingly be on Washington’s radar.
The second interesting point worth highlighting is business and economy.
The rare earth China is taking out of the export market may not be replaced by LAMP in Gebeng but it does provide Malaysia with a leverage and something to talk to the US. It would be useful with Malaysia having without few close friends and countries are at arms length relation under Tun Dr Mahathir.
The Minister in charge does not need to play politics with thousands of job on the line. Taking cognizant that LAMP had fulfilled the requirements in the past, it need to only double check the compliance was properly done.
They have to be fair or Lynas could just pull out the one industry Malaysia still has some edge. As the decision by Dynas to go Singapore instead of Malaysia, it only indicate foreign investment will not be easy to secure for the long transition process of the new PH government.
One need to recall back that the Lynas plant was an opportunity for Malaysia. An extract from the Edge October 29th recently:
In 2006, Lynas was scouting around for a suitable location to house its rare earth separation plant to serve the global rare earth material market, which at the time was controlled by China. Several locations were considered, including Australia itself.There was tax holiday given but the economy benefit from the employment and supply chain.
According to Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze, it was the efforts of the Malaysian government, through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), that brought the company here.
“We are here because the Malaysian government was doing a good job of selling the country as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). It has a stable economy, access to goods and services, as well as a skilled, capable and English-speaking workforce,” she tells The Edge in an exclusive interview.
With Miti championing all these attributes back then, Lynas was sold. Being in Malaysia also meant that the company could be near its major customers in North Asia, especially Japan and China.
More than half the rare earth materials produced at LAMP are exported to Japan for its large automotive and electrical and electronics industries, says Lacaze, adding that Lynas also exports heavy rare earth materials to China.
She concedes that compared with Australia, Malaysia offered a low-cost operating environment while the 12-year tax holiday granted by the government was an enticing incentive.
It leads us to the third and concluding matter relating to the environment.
The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Yeo Bee Yin did right to announce a cabinet decision made on October 10th to appoint technically suitable members for the technical review committee.
Yeo was impressive to take a stern decision to cancel several IPP contracts recently. Her decision to exclude politicians from the review committee seemed wiser than the "mistake of the previous BN government" to assign investigation to PSC in 2012.
The then opposition members appointed on the PSC did not cooperate to participate. The concern parties giving their deposition at PSC public hearing provided no credible and substantive evidence. There was a video published back then to show the whole public hearing and the allegation was rhetorical without any finding to back their claim.
Bernama recently reported the CEO assured no toxic or radioactive waste from Lynas. An FAQ from AELB can be found here. Lynas demonstrated to the media back then that there is no radioactive in the residue.
To allay public fear, Lynas committed to return any radioactive waste back to Australia and the mistaken BN government insisted the same too.
From the Edge report:
To allay fears that LAMP poses environmental, health and safety hazards to the country, Lacaze says the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and the Department of Environment (DoE) may inspect LAMP’s operations any time.Former PAS MP from Kuala Langat and a nuclear scientist refute his then fellow opposition:
LAMP produces two types of by-products: iron phosphogypsum or WLP, which contains a very low level of naturally occurring radioactivity, and magnesium-rich gypsum or NUF, which is a non-radioactive material.
According to Lynas, gypsum produced as a by-product is defined as scheduled waste in Malaysia, but not in Australia. However, where WLP is concerned, the company says it complies with all the regulations in Malaysia.
The WLP residue at LAMP is stored on site in a purpose-built, above-ground storage facility designed, built and managed in accordance with the requirements of a permanent deposit facility (PDF) and international best practice, says Lynas.
“Our materials do not even require to be classified as radioactive in Australia. So when people ask, ‘Why are you here? Is it because it is easier for you?’ Well, guess what? No, it is not. The environmental regulations here are actually more stringent in a number of ways,” says Lacaze.
Will the public hearing by the executive committee on November 11 uncover any substantive evidence and more sordid green mutant story get revealed?
Lynas welcomed the public hearing. Any green baby given birth since the commencement of the Lynas plant would have grown up by now. It should answer whether all the hurrah is about political ego or genuine environmental concern.