Sanusi's rare earth deal may be bigger than 1MDB scandal - MIC chief

Faisal Asyraf
·2-min read
Sanusi's rare earth deal may be bigger than 1MDB scandal - MIC chief
Sanusi's rare earth deal may be bigger than 1MDB scandal - MIC chief

MIC president S Vigneswaran has vowed to take on Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor amid escalating tensions between MIC and the PAS-led Kedah government, particularly on the issues of logging and rare earth elements (REE) exploitation.

This came after Sanusi's statement against Indian leaders from MIC and DAP that was tinged with racial stereotypes.

Yesterday, Sanusi rebutted criticism by Indian leaders from MIC and DAP over a temple demolition row in Kedah by suggesting that they appeared drunk on "two to three bottles after consuming only one" and suggested the critics were "drunk on toddy of popularity".

Vigneswaran said from today onwards; he will raise all issues in Kedah, including REE and logging.

"Since the state government inked an agreement with a Kuala Lumpur-based company linked to China, I want to ask how many percent (of the profit) will the Kedah get?

"I was made to learn that the company only offers the state government 10 percent.

"If it's just 10 percent, it's a stupid agreement. So I call on the federal government not to issue a permit until this matter is made clear and resolved," he said.

The REE, found in Sik, Ulu Muda, and Baling, is said to be worth up to RM62 billion. During a media conference, Sanusi had mistakenly said that the REE worth was RM43 trillion.

Subsequently, the MB's office had corrected the figure.

The company has been awarded an approval permit to prospect REE in Sik, but it did not involve mining methods. Sanusi did not state the estimated value of the mineral deposits in the area or the country origin of the international corporation linked to the local company.

Vigneswaran stressed that the state government could do better by processing the REE, which could boost job opportunities in the state rather than sending them to China.

He warned the state government not to snatch the wealth from the Kedah people.

"Please don't snatch the wealth from Kedahans. The issues concerning REE could be bigger than the 1MDB scandal.

"Why can't the state government do the downstream production? Why send (the REE) to China?" he said.

The issue of rare earth exploitation has been a controversial topic in Malaysia, particularly after a radioactive pollution incident in Bukit Merah, where residents claimed it caused cancer.

Asia Rare Earth Sdn Bhd eventually closed down its factory in 1994.

More recently, Lynas's rare earth process plant in Gebeng, Kuantan has also received fierce objections.

Amid the objections, the then Pakatan Harapan government had awarded a three-year extension of the operating licence for Lynas Corporation to run the rare earth processing plant in Gebeng.