Jun 26, 11
A sea of black greeted the dawn today, as nearly 1,000 locals from in and around Kuantan converged on Bukit Perlindung in yet another peaceful protest against the controversial Lynas Advanced Material Plant (Lamp) in nearby Gebeng, Pahang.
Parents, grandparents, children and youths gathered as early as 6am at the venue – located in an upscale housing area – wearing mostly black Save Malaysia T-shirts in support of the growing public outcry against the RM700 million rare earth project.
The event attracted a big turnout from the local Chinese community, and a strong presence from the Malays proudly wearing their protest tees.
Many of the participants willingly took on the 30-minute trek up the hill to chant slogans and cheer “Stop Lynas!” to show their unbridled opposition to the Australian mining giant's project.
The event is the latest in a string of protest gatherings organised by the Save Malaysia committee, following the success of their Mother's Day and Father's Day gatherings over the past two months.
The walk also attracted the requisite political attention, with Kuantan MP and PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh, party colleague and Simpang Pulai state assemblyperson Chan Ming Kai and MCA Indera Mahkota youth chief David Choi leading a posse of party members to show their presence.
Fuziah (left) won the crowd's approval when she knelt on the ground to join the locals in putting down her signature on an anti-Lynas banner.
She and some supporters also led protest chants for 10 minutes at the event's start point at the foot of the hill.
Around 30 police officers were spotted, mostly helping manage traffic flow at the junction leading into the venue, otherwise keeping a respectful distance.
Full day programme
The early morning walk, that the organisers believed had eventuallydrawn up to 4,000 participants, was however just the start of the day's proceedings. Around 30 people from various NGOs later visited the Lamp construction site in a bid to inspect the progress of the facility.
Their attempts to gain entry however were in vain, with the company security standing their ground despite 30 minutes of negotiations.
The group, led by Save Malaysia vice-chairperson Phua Kia Yaw, relented and moved on to Balok Makmur, a largely Malay area, to talk to residents about the project for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile Fuziah took her anti-Lynas message of the project's potential dangers to the open-air market at Stadium Darul Makmur in the heart of Kuantan, drawing a small but supportive crowd, many of whom also sported Save Malaysia T-shirts..
Her event attracted a larger police presence, with a blockade set up on the road in front of the stadium and at least three police trucks parked there and teams of officers dotting the perimeter.
They however did not interfere with the Kuantan MP's walkabout and left the venue close to 11am.
The Save Malaysia committee is at press time holding an afternoon public talk at a resort hotel near Gebeng.
The speakers include renowned environmentalist Gurmit Singh, who focussed on the environmental impact of rare earth processing plants, Wong Tack of the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) and Lee Chee Hung, who spoke on rare earth processing.
The event is expected to end at 4.30pm, followed by a media conference.