By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, January 18th, 1994:
The closure of A.R.E is a great victory of the people after 10 year struggle to protect their health life and environment which should be an inspiration to all other Malaysians
The closure of the Asian Rare Earth Sdn Bhd by ceasing operations altogether is a great victory of the people of Bulit Merah and the surrounding areas after a 10 year struggle to protect their health , life and environmental which should be an inspiration to all other Malaysians.
The people of Bukit Merah,Papan and the affected areas went through a herculean struggle ,and their spirit , stamina and commitment in the last 10 years to the cause of making their environmental , life and future generations safe must be recorded in the annals of Malaysian history – for genuine history must not only be about political leaders but the struggle of the ordinary people for a better life and country!
The ARE radioactive wastes issues is also a lesson that the loss of legal battles is neither the end of the struggle nor the end of the roas , and this must have borne heavily in the final decision on the closure of ARE factory.
I am particularly pleased by the final outcome of this issue ,as DAP Mps had repeatedly spoken up in Parliament for the people of Bukit Merah and Papan against the ARE in Parliament .
The first time I spoke iN parliament on the ARE radioactive wastes question was on October 24 ,1984 during the debate on the 1985 Budget.
I told the Parliament then that the government’s handling of the protest by the people against the ARE radioactive wastes would be a test-case as to whether it placed greater priority to the welfare , health and well- being of the 20,000 people or to the Japanese-Malaysian joint venture , the ARE especially as such activities were prohibited in Japan because of their threat to health and lives.
Although the people have won victory over ARE the battle is not over yet , as ARE has left behind more than 15,000 tonnes of radioactive wastes stored in the vicinity of Bukit Merak after 10 years of operation.
The Japanese Government should accept full responsibility to ensure that the 15,000 tonnes of radioactive wastes left behind by ARE are shipped away from Malaysia, and it should be up to the Japanese authorities to work out with Mitubishi Chemicals , which holds 35 percent equity in ARE , to work out ways and methods to ship away the store of 15000 tonnes of radioactive wastes.
Until these 15000 tonnes of radioactive wastes are shipped away from the vicinity of Bukit Merah , the people of Bukit Merah and the surrounding areas should continue to maintain their organization , cohesion and vigilance.