Regular readers of my blog will know that I am no eco-mentalist. I have some serious reservations about environmental issues. However, I do opinions about this whole Lynas issue after today’s rally has shown that there are a lot of noisy Malaysians who want the plant out of the country.
Personally, I think that this issue is being handled very badly by both the government and also Lynas. For one, Lynas must understand that the problem isn’t a technical one. So, no amount of scientific and technical facts are going to persuade the people of the plant’s safety.
Even if the government parades a string of experts and Lynas lines up a host of international endorsements, it is not going to work. The Lynas PR people must understand that the problem is that our government has lost the trust of these people. Unless you can get the Pope to endorse you, you’re not going to win this.
This is the crisis that our country is slowly falling into today – large swaths of our people have lost trust in the government. I cannot blame them though, since our senior government officials and cabinet members have been caught in lies far too often. With each lie, they lose credibility.
That is why I think that our government needs to hold an election soon – to prove that they’ve got the mandate to rule. However, before they do that, they need to learn to manage the issues better and to stop small issues from ballooning into fiascos of national proportions.
While we can argue over the size of the protest groups today, one thing is clear. The groups that oppose the issue are certainly larger than the best that those supporting the issue could muster. Therein lies the problem. The ruling elite have lost the mob. The people are slowly taking to the streets.
They must do something to get back the mob.
Handing out cash no longer works. Giving students RM200, poor RM500, bonuses etc may have worked in the past but the trick loses effectiveness after being used too often. These people need to learn some new tricks but I doubt that they have the capacity to. Malaysians are sick of reruns.
I will venture that the people are not going to give up the fight. However, the government isn’t about to give in either after investing so much money in it already. Lynas isn’t going to go away soon either as it has sunk too much into this project as well.
So, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Something has got to give.
Under normal circumstances, I would say that the people do not stand a chance of winning against the combined might of a multi-national corporation and the government. However, it’s election year and anything is possible. Wishes can get granted this year, though temporarily.
If this rare earth plant can generate so much resistance, I wonder how would a nuclear plant fare. I can guarantee you of this – nuclear power is coming to Malaysia. It’s inevitable. Our hydrocarbons will run out. Power demands will grow. Nuclear is our clear and best answer to the energy problem currently.
The people know that nuclear energy is safe. What they do not trust are the people running the plant.
Our society is damaged if we can’t even trust ourselves.
Time to sleep.