“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.