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Lynas installed its plant in the Malaysian area of Gebeng, Kuantan in the state of Pahang, without consulting the local community and has not been transparent, said activist Tan Bun Teet, chairperson of the organization Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, to Real World Radio.
Tan highlighted that Save Malaysia Stop Lynas is not against development, as the government often claims. "We just hope that whichever corporation that come and operate and that are going to provide job opportunities for the local communities, ensure that in the process of providing such employment opportunities as well as economic development, they should be made sustainable", said the activist, who was sued by the company for defamation together with four other members as well as the organization.
According to Tan and other people interviewed in Kuantan, the use of civil defamation was not common in the past. Its use has become more and more common after Lynas came to the country, a company that processes rare earths and produces radioactive waste such as thorium.
Tan said that the government has not properly listened to the valid opinions and arguments of the civil society, nor has it been able to provide any safe solution for the disposal of the waste.. So far, the company has not developed a waste management plan, despite some of them being radioactive.
Our interviewee highlighted that the community found out about Lynas project when almost 90 per cent of the plant was ready and thanks to a public forum organized by a local MP who shared an article from the New York Times about the construction of this plant in Gebeng. This was at the beginning of 2011. By late 2011, the first shipment of rare earth arrived to Kuantan´s port.
According to the activist, from the beginning of the resistance against Lynas, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas understood that there were two alternatives to expel the company. One was that the government closed down the factory, which would result in trials against the country and possibly economic damage. The other way would be to make Lynas financially non viable. "It was in this direction that we formulated our strategies.Today Lynas seems to be in financial difficulty", said Tan. Lynas is facing difficulties to pay its debts.
At the end of the interview, Tan highlighted the need for organizations and communities concerned about Mother Earth to be informed about the resistance against Lynas and linked this struggle in solidarity, understanding that any attack on Mother Earth in any part of the world has a consequence for other regions. "We should all work as one big coalition", he concluded.
Imagen: Víctor Barro – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional
En este Mil Voces rescatamos voces de luchadores y luchadoras sociales de América Latina que participaron de la Cumbre de los Pueblos que se desarrolló en Buenos Aires, Argentina, desde el 11 al 13 de diciembre, en paralelo y a propósito de la 11ª Reunión Ministerial de la Organización Mundial del Comercio, que sesionó en Buenos Aires.
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