MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, September 30, 2022

Lanthanide not radioactive but its by-products are, NGO tells Perak MB

The environmental group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has warned that rare earth mining raises the risk of radioactive contamination of its surroundings, even though the lanthanide being mined is not radioactive.

It said the process of mining lanthanide will concentrate naturally occurring radioactive elements in the soil, making it more bioavailable and raising the risk of exposure to radiation.

“The point is that the proposed activity in Kenering has a high risk of increasing the concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides, such as thorium, in the existing environment, in addition to ammonium (which is non-radioactive but is toxic).

“The practice of in-situ leaching to extract and recycle processed water as a leaching solution imposes a high risk of increasing the concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides and enhances the exposure from natural radiation sources,” its president Meenakshi Raman said in a statement today.

She is responding to Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad’s statement on Wednesday where he reportedly accused the opposition of misleading the public.

“(Pasir Pinji assemblyperson) Howard Lee Chuan How, who was a state executive council member at the time, was aware of the project, but he is now saying that the mineral is radioactive.

“We have gone through all the necessary (procedures) to get clearance to mine the mineral, and it is not radioactive,” The Star quoted the menteri besar as saying.

Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad

They were referring to rare earth mining activities in Kenering, Gerik.

Radiation levels much higher than average

Citing the project’s environmental impact assessment report, however, Meenakshi countered that the soil at the project site has 3.8 times the thorium-232 levels compared to the national average.

In addition, she said the thorium-228 on the site has radioactivity above one Becquerel per gramme, meaning it would need to be regulated as a radioactive substance.

Thorium-232 and thorium-228 are both radioactive isotopes of weakly radioactive metal thorium.

“These facts alone raise alarm bells, which seem to have been ignored or downplayed by the menteri besar.

“The menteri besar must also address this aspect of the mining process and not only focus on the final extracted lanthanide ore, which tends to convey the message that the mining process is safe and environmentally sound, which is not the case from SAM’s perspective,” she said.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman

Meenakshi also contested Saarani’s assertion that the project would not involve the felling of any trees.

“The entire project involves the construction of seven hydro metallurgical plants (40.7 ha in total). It is therefore misleading to say that no trees will be felled when trees have to be felled for these metallurgical plants.

“Moreover, the main concern with the project is that compared to conventional methods, in-situ leaching may have less impact in terms of land clearing, but it poses more serious risks to groundwater and the degradation of soils.

“This is made worse when the entire site falls within the National Physical Plan’s classification of being rank 1 as an Environmentally Sensitive Area, which does not allow such mining activity from taking place in the first place,” she said.

She also noted that in-situ mining activities in Ganzhou, China, have caused more than 100 landslides.

The menteri besar’s harping of lanthanide’s non-radioactive nature while failing to address concerns regarding its extraction process and the resulting sludge does not help in building trust with the public and local communities, she added. - Mkini

Six including two lawyers appointed as judicial commissoners


Six individuals including two lawyers were appointed as judicial commissioners today.

Fathiyah Idris, Wan Fadhilah Nor Wan Idris, Rofiah Mohamad, Wong Mee Ling, Raja Ahmad Mohzanuddin Shah Raja Mohzan, and Suria Kumar Durairaj Johnson Paul received their instruments of appointment from the Chief Justice of Malaysia Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

According to a media statement from the Office of the Chief Registrar, Federal Court of Malaysia (PKPMP) all of them took their oath of office and loyalty at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

Fathiyah, 56, previously held positions as a defence attorney, magistrate, Head of Mediation at the Shah Alam Court, and Sessions Court judge.

Wan Fadhilah, 54, has served as senior assistant registrar of the High Court, Sessions Court judge, and director of mediation division while Rofiah, 54, has held positions as senior assistant registrar, magistrate, and judge of the special coroner's court in Shah Alam, and Sessions Court judge.

Wong, 66, has held positions including as a federal lawyer at the Department of the Environment, a magistrate, an assistant parliamentary draftsman in the Parliamentary Drafting Division of the Attorney General's Chambers, and a senior federal lawyer at the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Works and the Public Private Partnership Unit, Prime Minister’s Department.

Raja Ahmad Mohzanuddin, 50 is a partner in several law firms, while Suria Kumar, 56 serves as an advocate and solicitor at several law firms.


Wan Junaidi: Malaysia to counter Sulu heirs' bid to seize assets in Netherlands

Malaysia will take legal action in the Netherlands to resist and set aside any attempt by the heirs of the late Sulu sultan in their bid to enforce a US$15 billion (RM69.55 billion) arbitration award against the country. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Malaysia will not tolerate those who “cynically seek to manipulate and abuse the system for personal gain or profit.”

“To that end, Malaysia will spare no expense in defending its sovereignty and its assets abroad wherever they may be situated,” he said in a statement today. 

Wan Junaidi (above) said that the latest attempt to seize Malaysia’s assets in the Netherlands by the Sulu heirs was nothing more than an “opportunistic act” perpetrated in breach and contravention of international arbitration rules and norms under the New York Convention and The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). 

This comes after Reuters reported yesterday that the heirs are seeking enforcement of a US$15 billion arbitration award granted to them against Malaysia’s government.

The heirs had asked a Dutch court for permission to seize Malaysian assets in the Netherlands, according to the report.

While the court petition did not specify which assets the heirs were referring to, it highlighted state oil firm Petronas and palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantations’ operations in the Netherlands.

However, Wan Junaidi denied that Petronas’ assets in the Netherlands were assets belonging to the Malaysian government.

“It would be an abuse of the process of any court to seek enforcement against such assets,” he said.

Confident of favourable outcomes

Back in February, the descendants of the Sulu sultanate obtained a US$14.9 billion award in an arbitration court in Paris, France. 

The matter did not garner much attention until the claimants enforced it on July 11 by seizing two Petronas subsidiaries in Luxembourg.

The following day, the Paris Court of Appeal in France on July 12 allowed the Malaysian government's application to stay the enforcement of the Final Award on claims by parties claiming to be heirs and successors-in-interest to Sultan Jamalul Kiram II.

Wan Junaidi contended, however, that the award was “obtained irregularly and in circumstances of illegality”, adding that no award should be enforced if it will cause severe repercussions to the stability of another country. 

“The award granted by the arbitrator was illegal and highly abnormal on many different grounds. 

“Taking one example, the seat of arbitration was moved - in breach of Spanish arbitration law - from Spain to France after the Superior Court of Madrid had declared as nullities, both the appointment of the arbitrator and the subsequent arbitral proceedings.

“Nonetheless, the purported Sulu heirs continue their efforts to attempt to enforce the impugned award opportunistically in nation-states where Malaysia has dealings,” he said. 

Wan Junaidi reiterated that Malaysia has taken court proceedings in France and Spain to set aside and render the award null. 

“Malaysia is confident that these proceedings will be resolved in Malaysia’s favour. 

“Further, Malaysia has initiated a global strategy to proactively resist and set aside any attempt by the purported Sulu heirs to seize or otherwise interfere with Malaysian assets abroad,” he said. - Mkini