More than 10,000 at Raub protest: Najib can't even manage Pahang, what more Malaysia?
More than 10,000 people began a march from the Raub sports complex in Pahang to the nearby Bukit Koman goldmine they alleged has been using cyanide to the detriment of their health.
The huge size of the crowd, which gathered spontaneously and voluntarily, signals the strength of public
unhappiness at the manner in which Prime Minister Najib Razak has been
accused of allowing hazardous industries to mushroom, even in his home state.
"The issue here is the use of cyanide and this complaint has been going
on since 2007. There are now 2 major hotspots in Pahang that Naib must
stand accountable for - the Lynas rare earth refinery and the Bukt Koman
goldmine. If he cannot manage his own home state, no wonder the federal government and the economy are going to the dogs," PKR MP for Kuantan Fuziah Salleh told Malaysia Chronicle.
residents have been opposing the Raub Australia Gold Mining Sdn Bhd
since 2007, even before the company began operations, but their lawsuits
and appeals to Najib's BN government fell on deaf ears.
Fearing the miner's use of cyanide in its processes would affect their
health, they have been organizing various protests culminating in
Sunday's rally, where representatives from the goldmine were due to
receive their memorandum of complaint.
However, after waiting for hours, no officer from the Raub Australia
Gold Mining Sdn Bhd showed up, prompting the crowd to burst through a
police cordon and attempt to march about a kilometre to the Buikt Koman
mine. About 300 cops were on duty at the Raub sports complex.
Visibly upset and emotional, the crowd shouted 'Ban Cyanide' as they
walked. But before they could reach the mine, the police with two junior
Raub Australia reps in tow intercepted the organizers at the head of the procession.
The rally leaders agreed to stop the march
and disperse the crowd after one copy of the memo was handed over to
the reps and another to Raub district police chief Wan Mohd Samsudin Wan
Osman for his onward transmission to the mine's president.
“Is it wrong for us to demand green policies? We don't think so. It is
the corrupted and incompetent government policies that are wrong,” said
Wong Kin Hoong, head of the Ban Cyanide committee which organized the
Severe skin ailments as Pahang becomes a "dump site"
of Raub's residents believe they are suffering ailments as a result of
exposure to cyanide-laced fumes from the goldmine. Several 'victims'
shared their experiences with the crowd that had begun gathering around
1pm for the latest Himpunan Hijau or Green Rally.
"It has been two years of suffering," said 62-year-old Chin Thian Hee,
showing the crowd her bag containing various medication. Another
resident Woon Soon Fatt said he had spent RM10,000 on medical expenses
for his family of six who have been suffering severe skin problems.
In Gebeng, the residents there with help of 'green' activists have also
mounted several huge rallies to pressure Najib's government to reverse
its approval for a RM700mil rare earth plant.
PAS environmental bureau chief Zulkifli Mohd Omar, who was also present
in Raub, blamed both the Pahang state government led by Adnan Yaakob and
Najib's federal government for turning their backs on the Gebeng and
Bukit Koman residents.
"Pahang has become a dump site. We have radioactive waste in Gebeng,
toxic waste in Raub, and now even Tasik Chini is threatened."
Yen Yen missing in action: Are the people really so dumb?
Najib's BN coalition have fought back, accusing the Green Rallies of
being staged for political motives. MCA MP for Raub Ng Yen Yen was
nowhere in sight during the entire afternoon. However, BN workers have
put up several banners to criticise the protest.
"Oppose Himpunan Hijau Raub. Do not trouble the people of Raub trying to rest for the weekend," screamed one banner.
At the Himpunan Hijau rally held in Gebeng in May, more than 20,000
people attended. The huge crowds that have turned spontaneously at all
the Green Rallies so far is a strong sign of societal change that Najib
and BN would do well to take serious note of.
"Malaysians are not only becoming conscious of the environment and their
health, but if Najib continues to disregard their worries and concerns
and to dismiss these as Opposition ploys, then he is a fool and deserves
to be kicked out of the government. When you have crowds like these, it
would be very silly and most presumptuous to think that there can so
many Malaysians who are dumb enough to be used as political tools by the
Pakatan," PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng toldMalaysia Chronicle.