Motion Approved

A MOTION to form a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to discuss a proposed rare earth plant in Pahang was approved by the House yesterday despite objections from opposition MPs.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz in tabling the motion said the PSC on the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant would look into the safety issues of the project.

The committee, to be headed by Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, will have nine MPs - four from Barisan Nasional, three from opposition parties and an independent - and will have three months to deliberate on issues raised. If the committee is unable to do so within the specified period, the matter will be brought back to the House to extend its appointment.

Seven MPs from both sides of the divide debated the motion yesterday, with all Pakatan Rakyat MPs opposing it on the grounds that the PSC was merely a "public relations exercise" by the government.

BN MP’s urged the government to obtain more expert opinions to allay fears over purported hazardous waste from the refinery.

Fuziah SaIIeh (PKR-Kuantan), in insisting that the PSC be given a mandate to decide on the future of the refinery, said the government should ensure that all work on the refinery is suspended and no rare earth ore is imported until the PSC had made its recommendations.

She also said all agencies and regulators involved in the project should stop issuing statements on the plant’s safety.

"The government should do this if it is really sincere in wishing to examine the plant’s safety. Anything less than what is demanded will be considered a shadow-play and a farce gearing up to an election," Fuziah added.

Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) suggested that the PSC compile expert feedback on controversial projects. He said it is prejudicial to claim that the committee has no powers even before it is formed.

Datuk Seri Shahrir Samad (BN-Johor Baru) said the committee’s settings should be broadcast live to maximise exposure.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor) said that if the government were sincere, the public should have been informed of the plan to build the plant before it was approved.

Khalid Samad (PAS-Shah Alam) argued that the PSC was merely a gimmick as the government had already decided on the matter.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the PSC is a public engagement process to ensure that the issue is well understood by all. He said, however, that the committee would not decide on the fate of the RM2.5 billion project.

In his winding-up speech yesterday, Nazri said Najib’s statement showed that the PSC would be neutral and independent. The de facto law minister also dismissed claims of it being a "gimmick", saying the committee was not meant to dispel preconceived notions of the plant being unsafe.

He also denied Yusmadi Yusoff’s (PKR-Balik Pulau) statement that any discussion on Lynas in parliament is sub judice.

Yusmadi was referring to a suit brought by Pahang residents living near the proposed plant, challenging the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s decision to give Lynas a temporary operating licence.

Nazri then urged the Opposition to vote in favour of a PSC, which he said could address their many concerns over the plant.

Sumber : The Sun - 21 Mac 2012

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