KUANTAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Anti-Lynas protesters slammed the Malaysian government's U-turn in allowing an operating licence extension for the rare earth company at a three-hour rally on Sunday (Aug 18).
Hundreds of protesters showed up at Taman Gelora here from 7am to express their displeasure at the recent announcement that a six-month licence extension would be granted to the Malaysian unit of Australian rare earths producer Lynas Corp. Certain conditions were imposed for the extension, including that the company relocates its initial processing operations from Malaysia to another site within four years.
The rally featured a show where a cardboard cut-out of a bus with the words "Pakatan Mungkir Janji" ('Pakatan breaking its promise') was brought around on repeated U-turns.
Cardboard faces of Pakatan Harapan leaders Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Mohamad Sabu were put on the cut-out bus.
Participants also took aim at the silent MPs and assemblymen by chanting the Hakka term "Jon loi lo", which means "Come back".
Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas chairman Tan Bun Teet said that when the government made the U-turn, many of the elected representatives who previously opposed Lynas had kept quiet, which was why the participants hollered at them to come back.
The rally ended with several participants tearing up Promise 39 of the Pakatan manifesto, which stated Pakatan's commitment to protect the people's welfare and environmental sustainability as well as not to be dictated by large corporations and their crony capitalists.
When asked why the plan to burn the manifesto was dropped, Mr Tan said he heeded the advice of Dr Mahathir and environmentalists and chose a different way to show the group's dissatisfaction.
The Prime Minister reportedly said it would not resolve anything just by burning manifestos.
Pakatan's elected representatives present at the rally included Bentong MP Wong Tack and Pahang assemblymen Sim Chon Siang, Lee Chean Chung, Chow Yu Hui and Chiong Yoke Kong.
Although the rally proceeded smoothly, Assistant Commissioner Mohamad Noor Yusof Ali, who is in charge of Kuantan police district, said the organisers had violated the Peaceful Assembly Act by not getting permission from the venue manager.
"I took the initiative to meet with the Kuantan Municipal Council president on Saturday (Aug 17) and he told me that approval to use the venue for the rally was not granted.
"I have already explained it clearly to the organisers that rules under the Act must be observed," he said, adding that the police will open an investigation into the violation.