KUALA LUMPUR – A group of young Malaysians went on a hunger strike for 100 hours – more than four days – up to New Year’s Eve, in their cause to protest against the controversial Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
The move reflected the continuous, rising dissatisfaction of the Malaysian civil society against the execution of the plant, sending the clarion call to the ruling regime to “act, or get ready to be changed.”
Calling themselves Malaysian Youths Against Public Hazards, members of the group – part of the persistent Himpunan Hijau coalition – encamped themselves at Dataran Merdeka beginning Thursday, last 27 December, for the hunger strike.
Roughly 20 people succeeded in reaching the 100-hour target, while being joined by more than 200 participants lending the strikers support in the cause.
On New Year’s Day, the Himpunan Hijau movement proceeded to hold a six-hour car convoy to Gebeng, Pahang, where the Australian rare earth plant is situated. The participants began their journey by setting of from Kuala Lumpur at PAS’s Taman Melewar headquarters.
The convoy arrived in Gebeng by 5pm the same day, where evening activities continue from there to the Anti-Lynas Blockade Base Camp in Balok.
Activist Wong Tack, chairman of the Himpunan Hijau coalition said, “It is our struggle to bring down this corrupt regime and evict Lynas from Malaysia.”
“We are carrying out a campaign for 100 days to bring down Lynas and to bring down the dark forces behind the corrupt regime,” he added.
Wong insisted that the authorities are irresponsible for allowing “violations of law and procedures”, further regretting the fact that “the regulators have turned into violators themselves”.
Both groups – Malaysian Youths Against Public Hazards and Himpunan Hijau – are decidedly having the same aims. First of the aims is to seek withdrawal of the temporary operating licence that the government has issued to Lynas, and the second one is for the detailed environment impact assessment of the Lynas plant to be granted access for the public.
According to Wong, Himpunan Hijau’s objective was to send the direct and clear message to those in power that “foreign corporate coloniser must be immediately evicted from this country” and the “dark forces behind them must be exposed and removed from position and power”.
These two events are part of the series of on-going protests held by Himpunan Hijau –a increadingly strong coalition of NGOs, probably the most active and highly participated movement against environmental grievances Malaysia has witnessed.
Himpunan Hijau has held rallies with notable successes in recent years, with the first one in Kuantan held in October 2011, participated by more than 5,000 concerned citizens whom regarded the plant as “unsafe”.
As Himpunan Hijau held their second rally in February 2012, the number has swelled up to a staggering number of more than 25,000 participants – a milestone, a sign seen by many as “a rising force that should not be ignored.”
In November last year, a protest march dubbed “the Green Walk” took place from Kuantan to its final leg in Kuala Lumpur, where the marchers were joined and cheered by more than 10, 000 other protesters at Dataran Merdeka.
The Sydney-based Lynas plant is touted to be the world’s biggest rare earth plant outside China. – The Rocket.