The former menteri besar accuses the Perak government of being arrogant for signing a MoU with the Hong Kong company for the rare earth project.
KUALA LUMPUR: Perak Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir came under fire today for claiming that he had been unaware of the rare earth deal between the state government and Hong Kong-based company Commerce Venture Manufacturing (CVM) Minerals Ltd.
His predecessor Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin said Zambry “is not telling the truth. As chairman of the investment arm, Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak (PKNP or Perak State Development Corporation), it is impossible he did not know. And if he truly doesn’t, he should give up before he destroys the state”.
Zambry has said that he was not aware of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between the PKNP and CVM Minerals as it had been carried out “at agency level”.
Nizar, the Bukit Gantang MP, called the decision to sign the MoU as “simply arrogant” on the part of the state government.
“We learnt our lesson about the risks of rare earth in Bukit Merah back in the 1990s. The cleaning-up costing hundreds of millions is still going on… to allow this Hong Kong company to come back is just plain stupidity,” he said.
“They (state government) are doing it for investment purposes and to boost morale – to show that they can bring in investments. The state government does not know what it is doing,” he added.
Slamming Zambry for his “abuse of power”, Nizar reminded the state government that the federal government would have to give the final agreement at the end of the day.
“Investors who wish to park their interests in Malaysia must get the approval of the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority and, in this case, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.”
He warned the state government that if the project was allowed to proceed, future generations would have to deal with the repercussions.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng also criticised the state government for its action.
“How can the Barisan Nasional (BN) be trusted to ensure the safety of such a high-risk project when it cannot build a stadium without its roof collapsing or the roof of Parliament leaking?”
Lim condemned the state government for “secretly” approving the rare earth project, asking voters to restore Pakatan Rakyat rule as the latter would place more importance on the people’s health and public safety than on “the blind pursuit of corporate profits”.
“The people of Perak must quickly restore the Pakatan government to prevent this rare earth mines from operating in Perak,” he said in a statement today.
FMT reported yesterday that the Perak government has signed a MoU with CVM in relation to “the establishment of a joint venture in Malaysia for the purposes of the exploration and mining of rare earth and other potential minerals and activities” in Bukit Merah.
CVM, via its subsidiary CVM Metal Recycle Sdn Bhd, submitted its application for a mining licence to the state Land and Mineral Office on April 18 to conduct rare earth exploration on an area of 250 hectares – nearly six weeks after the environmentaly hazardous Lynas rare earth project in Kuantan was publicised.
(Caving in to public pressure, the federal government decided not to allow Australian mining giant Lynas Corporation Ltd to proceed with the refinery project in Gebeng, Kuantan, pending safety reports to be produced by an independent panel.)
PKNP has a 4.73% stake in CVM.
However, Perak Health, Local Government and Environment Committee chairman Mah Hang Soon said today that no approval had been granted to CVM and as far as he was concerned, it was just a MoU.
CVM could not be reached for comment despite repeated phone calls.
The first rare earth plant in Bukit Merah, under Mitsubishi Chemicals, closed in 1992 after years of protests from citizens.
The area is still undergoing a massive RM303 million clean-up helmed by Mitsubishi Chemicals. - FMT