Malaysia: Largest environmental protest condemns toxic refinery plans

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“The message is clear. The people have spoken up… The people do not want the Lynas Project in Malaysia”

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people joined the biggest environmental protest ever held in Malaysia on February 26. The marchers condemned plans by the Australian mining company Lynas to refine dangerous rare earths close to the heavily-populated east coast city of Kuantan.

The Malaysian government gave the project temporary operating approval in February, sparking mass opposition and legal challenges.

The refining process produces materials used in electronic devices such as Apple’s iPhone and hybrid cars. It also produces waste so toxic and radioactive that it would not be allowed back into Australia, where the ore is mined.

Following the protests, the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Socialis Malaysia – PSM) issued a statement:

“The message is clear. The people have spoken up… The people do not want the Lynas Project in Malaysia which would only benefit Barisan Nasional [BN – the governing coalition] and its cronies.

“[The] PSM calls upon the BN government, listen to the people and stop Lynas now. If, BN is serious about the people’s aspirations and still wants to go ahead with Lynas, call for a referendum and let the people decide whether or not Malaysia needs Lynas.

“PSM also strongly condemns all kind of intimidation posed at the people who are opposing Lynas. In Penang, UMNO-BN used thugs to disrupt the rally. The continue to use old tactics to instil fear among people. BN cannot use this old tactic anymore. The people have braved themselves.

“It’s time for BN to use political will and stop Lynas! Or the people will use their will and stop Lynas and BN.”

The photo below was taken by PSM member Choo Chon Kai. It is part of an impressive photo essay on the  march and mass rally in Kuantan, published by Australia’s Green Left Weekly.


  • Current ways of governance are fatally flawed in that the power of the people is passed up the organisational hierarchy, in this case political, to the topmost level of the organisational hierarchy, in this case government. Once the power is at the top the people become totally reliant on the top most level not being corruptly bought off by special interests. This was clearly a vain hope in this instance, as is the case in so many instances which involve environmental issues. We have got to develop social mechanisms which keep the social power permanently with the people, that is at the bottom most level of the organisational hierarchy. Being able to vote for governments every so many years is totally inadequate to deal with the kind of environmental issues that we are now facing.

  • Whilst the IAEA has submitted a lengthy report on the Lynas project and the impact assessment brings no major health or environmental concerns.

    I question then why do the Aussies not site the processing plant close to the supply source, they must be afraid of something?

    I support the concerns of the indigenous people of the region….Fight it !