Posted: 25 Feb 2012 09:23 PM PST
Today's gathering of some 15000 people in Kuantan was probably the biggest environmental protest in Malaysian history.
At the very least, it would be comparable to the Bukit Merah protests in 1987-88. At the height of those protests, during court proceedings in 1988, some 10000-15000 turned up to show their opposition to the Asian Rare Earth plant, recalls Dr T Jayabalan, who has been involved in the field at both Bukit Merah and Gebeng, Kuantan.
But unlike Bukit Merah, the ethnic composition of the crowd in Kuantan this morning was much more diverse, coming from a broader cross-section of society. And unlike Bukit Merah, the protest drew in people from outside Kuantan. And this time around, there were other protesters in spirit: thousands of netizens on Twitter and Facebook expressed their solidarity with those in Kuantan this morning.
At the rally this morning, Anwar addressed the crowd and promised to cancel Lynas' plant if Pakatan Rakyat won federal power – a pledge that must be kept.
The gathering this morning could mark the beginning of a new green movement. In this watershed year of 2012, Malaysians, it would seem, are moving up to a higher plane of environmental consciousness.
Himpunan Hijau also reminds us we must be more discerning in our choice of investments. Not all FDI is good for the country. We have to opt for a more sustainable development model that puts people before profits.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 06:17 AM PST
by Nigel Aw
DAP has called on the federal government to form a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to probe the safety of the RM700 million Lynas Advanced Material Plant (Lamp) in Gebeng, Kuantan.
Party vice-chief Tan Seng Giaw (right) said the federal government should do so as it had called for a PSC on electoral reforms immediately after the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 last year.
"Like the Bersih 2.0 rally, the government set up a parliamentary select committee so this should be the case (for Himpunan Hijau 2.0), a parliamentary select committee should look into Lynas," he said.
Tan said the government must take heed of the people's concerns and review decision to allow Lynas to operate in Malaysia, by taking into consideration of the effects caused by the now defunct Bukit Merah rare-earth refinery in Perak.
The Lamp, he said, similarly involves similar thorium waste and in the Bukit Merah case, an element believed to be responsible for the high level of leukemia cases among those living within the vicinity.
Kit Siang: Is Lamp really worth it?
Meanwhile, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang warned that if the government continues to ignore the people's voice, it will cost them at the ballot box.
"BN has said it is confident in retaining all its seats in Pahang but today is a warning that they may lose more seats as people are concerned about the environment and good governance," he said during a post-Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally DAP luncheon in Kuantan this afternoon.
This, he attributed to the increasing political maturity of Malaysians which compared to Bukit Merah, are much more active in voicing out their rights.
Lim said that while the economic benefits of Lamp cannot be denied, he questioned whether it was worth the risk.
"Countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan prosper without rare earth, there are plenty of other opportunities… There is no need to tale such risks for development," he said.
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