by Ronald McCoy
A speech last week by Dato’ Mah Siew Keong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, at an event organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) was reported in Malaysiakini. The minister urged critics of nuclear energy to keep an “open mind”, as the government had decided to table the Atomic Energy Regulatory Bill in parliament later this year.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, to be open-minded is to be willing to listen to, think about or accept different ideas. It is the opposite of narrow-minded which is to be unwilling to listen to new ideas or to the opinions of others.
The report left me open-mouthed. The dictionary defines ‘open-mouthed’ as having your mouth open because you are surprised or shocked. When I got to the part where the minister claimed that the nuclear debate revolves around three groups - those who are vocally for it, those who know absolutely nothing about it or those who believe in it as long as it is not in their backyard -- my mouth opened wider, the same way it does when I cringe in the dentist’s chair.
The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is deeply concerned by the shocking process by which the United States of America (USA) squeezes more concessions from other countries it negotiates free trade agreements (FTAs) with, even after the treaty’s text is signed. This was outlined in new research released yesterday at http://tppnocertification.org/. This process of one-sided extraction of concessions is called ‘certification’ and the USA is demanding it be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) currently being negotiated by Malaysia and 11 other countries including the USA.
The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) read with utmost concern the announcement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Mah Siew Kiong on the government’s insistence to pursue nuclear power generation as a future energy source for the country.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on the government to urgently review and revamp the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in Sarawak due to its inadequacies, specifically on its lack of mandatory public participation. Unlike its Federal counterpart, the Sarawak EIA law excludes mandatory public participation in the process, relegating the matter to the discretion of individual project proponents.
Public participation in the EIA process is extremely crucial because involvement of all concerned stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process of a project and EIA ensures a higher degree of transparency in the project needs assessment and approval.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the Kedah state government to take stringent action against a rice miller who has been disposing and burning paddy husk in Kampung Tengku Langkasama near Kuala Kedah. The burning of paddy husk has resulted in serious air pollution here.
In addition to the dust and ash flying in the air surrounding the nearby village and housing estate, the problem also causes malodour, skin diseases among the local community and destroys mangroves in the area.