PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim risks being accused of inconsistency in his stance on the Lynas’ Gebeng plant following today’s publication of a report that he would back it if it survives a new public inquiry.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) quoted him as saying that a federal government controlled by Pakatan Rakyat would allow the rare earth processing factory to continue operating if the inquiry found it to be safe.
The statement appears to conflict with a remark he made during a Himpunan Hijau rally in Kuantan last year. He assured his audience then that Pakatan would dismantle the plant.
In the SMH report, Anwar was quoted as saying that he would be “the first to champion the plant” if the company came up with a “convincing argument that there is no risk to people’s safety and security”.
The current mainstream Pakatan position appears to be against Lynas. Among the most vehement critics of the Gebeng plant are DAP chief Lim Guan Eng and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, a prominent member of Anwar’s PKR.
In its election manifesto unveiled last week, the opposition pact pledged to “halt operations of Lynas”.
According to SMH, Anwar said he found it easier to identify with the opponents of the plant than to trust the government agencies that approved it.
However, he added that a government led by him would allow the company and those who support it to testify at the proposed inquiry.
When asked to comment on Anwar’s latest statement, Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack said his group was demanding a total review of the political and bureaucratic processes that resulted in the government’s approval of the plant.
He said he was not demanding for Lynas to be “closed and paid billions of ringgit” in compensation.
“What we are saying is that Lynas walked into our country through the backdoor and violated all procedures because of corruption,” Wong told FMT.
“So we should withhold their temporary license and let them present the truth from their side. We will present ours.
“If they go through the processes and comply with all our laws, then we have no problem letting them continue.
“But they must get out from the back door and come in from the front door.”
Wong said he believed Lynas would not survive a public inquiry “unless they are willing to invest heavily to change the climate of the country” to make it similar to Lynas’ Mount Weld mine in Australia.