Whichever way one views the Lynas project, Pahang Mentri Besar Adnan Yaakob and Prime Minister Najib Razak have to take the responsiblity for the disgraceful violence that broke out this morning between supporters and detractors of the rare earth plant - in full sight of a distinguished panel from the IAEA.
It is well established that both Adnan and Najib favor the RM700 million project even though it carries huge environmental risks from potential radioactive leaks due the rare earth mining processes and waste materials.
Adnan, in particluar, has been vocal and wants to hammer the project through so that it can be re-started within the next month or so. This despite a slew of warnings from environmentalists, and the bitter experience of a similar and failed project in Bukit Merah, Perak.
The buck stops with Najib
Najib, as PM, has taken a lower profile but he is just as passionate about the locating the plant in Pahang, which is his home state. Like Adnan, he appears oblivious to the threat of radioactive contamination and the health hazards it can pose to the people of Pahang.
Najib's critics point to his having received a doctorate from Monash University during a recent visit to Australia as an indication of his commitment to the Australian-mooted project.
Lynas is Australia's largest miner. Apart from this controversial plant, which Australia does not wish to host on its own vast continent, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also managed to persuade Najib to accept another 'project' that her country is keen to get rid off - providing asylum for 'difficult' refugees that have made their way to the Land Down Under.
Both controversial deals - one private and the other government to government - have attracted intense international attention. In both, Najib has allowed Malaysia to get the short end of the stick, and the country is being tagged as Australia's rubbish dump. The question is why?
Whatever his motive, Najib has let Malaysia down. As the country's CEO, the buck stops with him.
Today, he exacerbated Malaysia's weakening image by resorting to the sort of rowdy behaviour that has become associated with his ruling party, UMNO, and its various support groups including Perkasa and Pembela.
"It is certainly suspicious and Najib does owe the Malaysian people an explanation. The same goes for Adnan. He can deny that the pro-Lynas crowd was unruly or was instigated by him or UMNO, but who will believe them? This an UMNO project, an Adnan-Najib pet project in fact. How can they deny responsibility now," PKR leader Lee Boon Chye told Malaysia Chronicle.
On Tuesday, some 100 rowdy demonstrators supporting the controversial rare earth plant forced a group of Beserah residents to leave the Hyatt Regency hotel, where the residents had met the expert members from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Beserah is the site where the plant is located and the residents there, along with many Pahang residents, are unhappy to have such a health time-bomb forced onto their state.
A scuffle ensued, punches were thrown and the police had to escort the residents away.
Earlier in the morning, the pro-Lynas group carrying banners proclaiming support for Adnan had also chased away anti-Lynas protestors who were wearing 'Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas' t-shirts.
The anti-Lynas group had gathered at the beach in front of the hotel, and outnumbered, they were forced to drop their plan to protest.
"This is typical UMNO samseng behaviour. It is very sad that with the whole world watching, they are disgracing our country, Pahang and also destroying the image of the Malays with their behaviour," PKR vice president Fuziah Salleh told Malaysia Chronicle.
- Malaysia Chronicle