Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 19th March 2011:
Najib should give full report to Parliament on the previous “bad experience” with nuclear power which former PM Mahathir had mentioned
The Cabinet meeting yesterday was a great letdown and disappointment.
In the wake of the Japanese nuclear meltdown crisis triggered by the double calamity of 9.0 earthquake and tsunami last week, the failure of the Cabinet Ministers yesterday to discuss widespread concerns in the country about Malaysia's nuclear power plans is the height of irresponsibility and negligence.
The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili did not tell anything new when he said after the Cabinet meeting that the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation would proceed with accepting tenders for companies to conduct a feasibility study on the government’s plans to build two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants by 2022.
What really shocked Malaysians is his revelation that the Cabinet had not discussed this matter at its meeting yesterday.
The earlier statements by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that Malaysia will learn from the lessons of the Japanese nuclear disaster and the Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Peter Chin that the government will not be secretive but will inform the public about its nuclear power plans are meaningless when the Cabinet does not even think the issue which has dominated national and world attention for the past week as even worthy of discussing at its meeting yesterday!
Many countries have reviewed their nuclear power plans. China, for instance, has announced that it would follow the lead of Germany and Switzerland and pause to review its nuclear power programme - putting on hold approvals for proposed plants and to reconsider long-term plans for 28 new reactors or 40 per cent of all those being built worldwide.
Why has the Malaysian Cabinet acted in so irresponsible a manner?
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had revealed a few days ago that his administration did not pursue nuclear power because of a "bad experience" with the technology.
He said: "The cabinet then only supported the use of four methods to gain energy, namely fuel, coal, gas and hydro. The cabinet was not supportive of the nuclear energy option as there was concern over how we would dispose of the waste. Furthermore, we have had a bad experience with it."
Najib should give a full report to Parliament next week on the previous “bad experience” with nuclear power which Mahathir had mentioned as this will be a test whether his administration can be trusted to be fully transparent on the issue whether Malaysia should opt for nuclear energy.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor