Home Civil Society Voices 2011 Civil Society Voices Thousands protest against rare earth refinery

Thousands protest against rare earth refinery

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A large crowd gathered at a Kuantan beach on Mothers’ Day to protest at plans for a rare earth processing plant near the city.

Thousands of people turned up from 5.00pm onwards at the popular Teluk Cempedak Beach in Kuantan to mark their opposition to the hazardous Lynas rare earth processing plant near the city of Kuantan in Malaysia.

The spirit of unity and solidarity was evident in the biggest gathering yet of residents opposing the project.

Member of Parliament Fuziah Salleh from PKR said the 1000 roses they brought to the gathering were not enough to go around to the people who attended the Mother’s Day ‘1000 mothers’ against rare earth plant’ beach ‘party’. People, holding roses, carnations and candles, staged a vigil to show their strong opposition to the hazardous and radioactive waste that will be dumped near Kuantan, if the project goes ahead.

Residents have started to organise themselves using social media to garner support and raise awareness in their bid to stop the controversial project by Australia’s Lynas Corporation. The firm will bring tens of thousands of tonnes of rare earth concentrate from its Western Australia Mount Weld mine to Malaysia for processing.

The police were present but could not do anything due to the large number of protesters.

A Mothers’ Day message from the “Stop Lynas” beach party at Teluk Cempedak:

One deformed baby is too many

We, some 1000 mothers and our families and friends, come from places near and far to gather here at Teluk Cempedak Beach and express our unwavering objection to the proposed Lynas Rare Earth Plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

We have only one simple message: We do not want deformed babies. Not for ourselves. Not for our loved ones. Not for anyone else – including those who approve or support this project.

All mothers go through labour pain and feel hurt when their children are harmed. Deformed babies are harmed right before their birth till the day they leave the world!

What greater cruelty can one do to mothers and their families than turning their joy of welcoming a new life into a lifelong ache of seeing their physically deformed or mentally retarded child struggling and suffering through everyday?

Can you imagine the agony a mother has to go through if she eventually has to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy?

We are mothers blessed with healthy children and a happy family. We want the same for everyone.

We therefore oppose unfalteringly the proposed Lynas Rare Earth Plant, which will expose not only the mothers in the Kuantan-Kemaman area to greater risk of birth deformity, but also all people around to greater risk of leukaemia and other illness.

Don’t tell us that the increased risk is minimal. The mothers in Bukit Merah, Perak, still have their suffering tales to share. We do not want the Lynas Rare Earth Plant even if the price is only one more deformed baby or one more leukaemia patient. One tragedy is too many!

We need not and should not sacrifice our health for wealth. Isn’t this the message we tell our husbands and children daily?

We all can afford to live simpler but happier lives. No money can buy the happiness we have being with our families.

That’s why we are here today, walking on the beach, cherishing the sunset, holding a stock of carnation or rose, lighting a lantern or a candle, with our husbands and children. These are just very, very simple things in life, but they are priceless.

And we prefer these simple joys in life, anytime, to RM5bn in GDP that comes with deformed babies and leukaemia deaths.

This is a simple fact we know by heart. We do not need any international review panel to tell us that. We do not need experiments or testing to know how much happiness is worth.

Why aren’t we the Malaysian mothers consulted when the health of our babies and families are at stake? Are we not stakeholders?

We hope the decision-makers in Putrajaya and Kuantan people will heed our expert and professional opinion as mothers: what is not safe for Australian mothers is also not safe for Malaysians mothers too.

We do not want to know how this hazardous project could even be considered in the first place. We just want it to be stopped now.

Today’s beach party is a gathering of love against greed, of peace against arrogance, of humanity against disasters.

You do not see Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians or Orang Asli here. You do not see Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, animists or atheists.

You see only Malaysian mothers, and their families and friends, united in love, peace and humanity. We are not organised by any political parties to oppose any other. We welcome all political parties, associations, groups and individuals to join us because everyone has a mother, some are mothers themselves while some others may become one someday.

We, ordinary Malaysian mothers, organise ourselves on Facebook. We send the invitation to each other. We thank the two Facebook communities 1m Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower and Pahang Don’t Need “Hazardous” Project for the wonderful and heart-warming opportunities for networking.

Lastly, we wish Mother Nature “Happy Mothers’ Day” too. And if our voice falls on deaf ears, we will see you again here on Fathers’ Day!

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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