malaysian people rise up to prevent australian corporation from poisoning their country
About 3,000 Malaysians have staged a protest against a refinery for rare earth elements being built by the Australian mining company Lynas over fears of radioactive contamination.
It was the largest rally so far against the £146m plant in eastern Malaysia, and could pose a headache for the government with national elections widely expected this year.
Authorities recently granted Lynas a licence to operate the rare earth plant in Pahang state, the first outside China in years, and it has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.
Lynas says its plant, which will refine radioactive ore from Australia, has state-of-the-art pollution controls and plans to start operations by June.
Protesters, including opposition MPs, pledged on Sunday to put pressure on the government to scrap the project. Many wore green T-shirts with the words “Stop Lynas” and some shouted “Destroy Lynas” during the two-hour rally in the Pahang state capital, Kuantan.
The opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, said his alliance would seek an emergency motion in parliament to urge the government to cancel the project. He also pledged that the opposition would scrap the plant if it won national polls expected by June.
“We don’t want [this project] to sacrifice our culture and the safety of the children,” he told the crowd.