Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BN, stop importing pollution to Malaysia!

After importing Lynas plant rejected by the Australian government, the BN government has once again proved itself a poor steward of Malaysia's environment by rushing into importing a petrochemical plant that was rejected by the Taiwanese government! Just like the Pahang government for Lynas, the Johor government is now considering the constructions of Kuokuang Petrochemical Tehnology Co plant. This project, which involves a petroleum refinery complex and a naphtha cracker, was scrapped by Ma Ying-Jeou government in 2011 in its own homeland because of environmental concerns. Just like what's shown in the picture below, it has been literally sent by the Taiwanese to Malaysian shore and received with an open arm by Datuk Sri Najib's government in Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC)! How sad!

Source: AppleDaily (苹果日报)

I believe that as an oil-producing country and with more than 2 decades of petrochemical experiences, Malaysia has the competitive advantage in term of physical and human resources to develop petrochemical downstream industry. Processed product is more expensive than its crude. With that, we are able to push up the value chain of our petroleum-related products exports and therefore increase the expected national income from this segment by the billions. Therefore, there is no reason for us to oppose blindly a petroleum complex plan if the development does not compromise the safety of our people and the quality of our environment. 

Nevertheless, what I strongly oppose is the BN government approach in planning and executing the PIPC project. 

First of all, I am curious to know why Pengerang was chosen at the first place. It is a fishing village that harvests on high-value fishing stocks such as lobster, a steady touristic town and it is just 20km++ from Desaru, Johor major tourism destiny. Any detailed social cost and benefit analysis done? How much is at stake? What is the impact of the marine lives, fishing stocks, tourism industry etc? What are the steps to minimize these impact? What about the cemetery? As for the compensation to the villagers, only land price has been taken into account so far, what about the lost of future earnings? What about other stakeholders, such as the tourism operators, seafood restaurants etc? We need to know the answer. 

KuoKuang Petrochemical has had a plant explosion incidence in Taiwan previously and this particular project itself faced persistent rejection in Taiwan.  So it is definitely reasonable for residents and environmentalists to voice out their concerns and THEY SHOULD BE HEARD. 

A group of Taiwanese scholars estimated that the social cost (environment, livelihood etc) of the project will range from RM5 to RM11 billion in Taiwan every year. Just to put you into perspective, the capital investment of this plant is estimated at about RM35 billion. If it is the foreign direct investment (FDI) that we are looking at, we'll loss out in our social capital is less than 10 years. So why KuoKuang? Is the BN government trying to sell out our environment and the safety of Malaysian people for their own benefits? 

I sincerely hope that the BN government will make sure that a strict and proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is done and public voices are heard before deciding on whether to grant permission of constructions for KuoKuang Petrochemical (of which I hope they do not approve). I hope that BN government has learnt a lesson from Lynas that they SHOULD involve the public in decision making. Arrogance is the last thing we need of a responsible and accountable government. 

All in all, we need much greater transparency and public involvement in mega project such as PIPC than what is currently offered by the Barisan Nasional. Rakyat should really be didahulukan, not just rhetoric. 

Putting you into perspective

With all the hoo-haa going on about environment, some politicians will tell you that we need to sacrifice our environment to give way to economic development. Yes, I do agree that we need to find the balance between the two, but please allow me to put you into perspective. For the past 9 year, Malaysia has lost approximately RM1047 billion in illicit money (mainly from bribery and other unlawful conducts). So before some BN politicians want us to sacrifice our beloved environment and put Malaysians lives at risk for the RM 2.5 billion of FDI for Lynas plant and the RM35 billion of KuoKuang plant, which is less than 5% of what was lost because of BN corruption, let us tell them this: leave Putrajaya, we can save much more from not having your dirt in Putrajaya without having to sacrifice anything!