Posted: 04 Apr 2012 12:10 PM PDT
Lynas Malaysia - Nick Curtis on Lynas and the Bukit Merah incident
Posted: 30 Mar 2012 08:45 PM PDT
IPOH, 31 MARCH, 2012: The 29-year-old disabled son of a woman who once worked at the rare earth plant in Bukit Merah, Perak, has died.
His mother Lai Kwan, had been pregnant with him when she was a construction worker at the Asian Rare Earth (ARE) factory. A single mother, Lai, 69, had been caring for her disabled son since his birth.
According to his elder sister, Lai Sun, her brother died of a serious bacterial infection.
She said Kok Leong had been suffering from both fever and cold two days ago, and the antipyretic medication he was taking had been ineffective.
Following medical tests, it was discovered that the bacterial infection had spread to Kok Leong's brain and he was in critical condition.
Lai Sun said that after unsuccessful attempts to save his life, Kok Leong passed away at 9.32pm Wednesday night.
Lai Kwan worked as a bricklayer under a building contractor during ARE's expansion in 1982 to support her seven children, and was at that time pregnant with Kok Leong.
She quit when she heard that ARE, which is owned by Japanese multinational Mitsubishi, was producing radioactive waste.
Kok Leong was underweight at birth and frequently suffered from asthma. He had also been diagnosed with Down syndrome, cataracts and had a hole in his heart.
Early this month, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said that Kok Leong's condition was "unlikely" to be caused by exposure to radiation.
ARE was brought back into the spotlight recently in the wake of a controversial plan by an Australian company, Lynas, to set up a rare earth refinery plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
The rare earth plant in Bukit Merah issue had often been raised by opponents to Lynas as a cautionary tale.
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