In one word, radioactive. In two words, Bukit Merah.
Rare earth mining and refining has a unenviable association with serious environmental problems. After the tragedy in Bukit Merah, caused by the lax radioactive waste management by rare earth refiner Asian Rare Earth Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian public is understandably very concerned and demands assurance that radioactive wastes from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan is properly disposed of.
Lynas has repeatedly maintained it “has successfully met all licence conditions relating to operations and environmental performance” and that it is “strongly committed to open and transparent communication with all our stakeholders”.
Many remain unassured. Why is that?
For starters, after more than five years in operation, Lynas has yet to identify the location of a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for the storage of its radioactive wastes. Neither has there been any public notifications, publications or announcements by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB) on the issue. Note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its 2011 report had recommended that a PDF be identified before an operating licence is awarded to LAMP.
Malaysia’s Land Code forbids the usage of any land as PDF of radioactive wastes. As AELB should be keenly aware of that, this indicates the regulator’s acceptance of Lynas’ bold claims that it could safely recycle all its wastes, including the radioactive water leached purification (WLP) waste. Given the nature of radioactive wastes, is that even possible?
Lynas’ engagement with stakeholders is arguably also lacking.
True Lynas has held exhibitions, organised some community activities, and opened its doors for visits from the press and stakeholders. But many questions remain unanswered.
There has been repeated calls for Lynas to have a more in-depth dialogue with stakeholders, such as via a public forum, to address issues of concern, especially its radioactive waste management. Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze had seemed open to the idea of a public forum after the International Trade and Industry Minister suggested it in 2016, giving the impression it plans to conduct such a forum, “preferably before year-end”.
When the issue of a public forum was pursued again, Lacaze pointed to the company’s website: “Information on our residue management is available in the following sections of our website www.lynascorp.com — Commitments & Responsibilities / Residue Management, and News / Media Briefing at Community Event.” (Note: the website’s layout and sections have changed since.)
Alas, some information found on its website raises even more questions!
Notably, the website does not state the volume of wastes Lynas produces. Formulation of its soil enhancer, called CondiSoil, could not be found either.
In its Radioactive Waste Management Plan (RWMP) submitted on 30 December 2011, Lynas had proposed to recycle all its solid wastes into industrial by-products. It had shared an impressive timeline of R&D and commercialisation over 2012-2015. Key products/applications included plaster board and cement manufacturing, road base, fertilizers, and soil remediation. As CondiSoil now seems to be the sole residue-derived product on its plate, Lynas needs to share more on how this product helps it to recycle its radioactive wastes.
If Lynas is being seen a villain, it has no one to blame but itself. Turning a deaf ear to the repeated requests for a dialogue from the community LAMP is operating in is a demonstration of haughty arrogance at best, or worse, hiding something that cannot stand up to exposure. Given the lack of disclosure and details on CondiSoil, Lynas looks suspiciously like trying to pull wool over the public’s eyes.
Yes legally, Lynas has complied with all the required rules and regulations, for now. AELB concurs.
But morally, Lynas has failed us.
Unless Lynas can assure us to the contrary, it will remain accused of processing rare earths in Malaysia — some 4,000 nautical miles from where they are mined, no less — only so that it can leave us the toxic wastes because its own country does not want them while being handsomely compensated (e.g. 12-year tax holiday) by our own government for the deed! Indeed, the distrust for Lynas has made the people to also distrust the authorities charged with protecting us from radioactive harm. They failed us re Bukit Merah; they could just fail us again — that it the fear.
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Say radiation and the image of contorted babies with missing or extra limbs come to mind — not a pretty picture.
Though radiation has plenty of safe practical uses as well — think x-rays, sterilisation of medical equipment, smoke detectors and even food irradiation — “radioactive exposure” connotes Fukushima horrors before all else.
Thus, it is understandable that when Australian Lynas Corp set up a rare earth refinery on our shores where it will use radioactive feedstock and generate tonnes of radioactive waste, many were alarmed and protests swiftly followed.
Today, many still find Lynas’ solution for its radioactive wastes unsatisfactory.
How dangerous are these wastes?
Based on Lynas’ its Radioactive Waste Management Plan (RWMP) submitted on 30 December 2011, every tonne of rare earth oxide it produces will be an accompanied by 13.41 tonnes of solid residues — 7.93 tonnes Neutralisation Underflow Residue (NUF), 2.63 tonnes Flue Gas Desulfurisation (FGD) and 2.85 tonnes Water Leached Purification Residue (WLP).
After the visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Review team in 2014, the NUF and FGD with radioactivity below 1 Bq/g were dropped from the regulatory control of Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB). They were classified as clear waste and placed under the Department of Environment’s (DOE) purview.
The worrisome residue it WLP, which has a radioactivity of 7.98 Bq/g. In 2014, an experiment to extract the radioactive Thorium from WLP conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) proved to be non-viable. However, the experiment revealed that the radioactivity of WLP was much higher than that declared earlier by Lynas.
Lynas’ website says: “Our residues are not wastes – they have tremendous potential as safe commercial products”. In its RWMP, Lynas had proposed to recycle all its solid wastes into industrial by-products. It even had an impressive timeline of R&D and commercialisation over 2012-2015. Key products/applications included plaster board and cement manufacturing, road base, fertilizers, and soil remediation. In fact, Lynas had in many occasions said there would be little need for a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for its wastes as they would all be recycled!
This picture demonstrates the comparative size of LAMP’s waste to that of a full-sized adult
To date, nothing has been commercialised. Lynas still appears to be struggling to find a solution for its fast-growing solid residues. It all boils down to a single product, a soil enhancer called CondiSoil, for which it received SIRIM’s seal of approval last year.
However, the proposed mixture of 1:2:7 of WLP: NUF: FGD will leave behind large quantities of unused radioactive WLP for lack of FGD to go with it to create CondiSoil — using all the FGD to make CondiSoil would only use up 13.18% of WLP. This begs the question of what Lynas intends to do with the remaining 86.82% of its radioactive WLP? A PDF would be needed to safely store it, no?
One also can’t help but wonder if the ratio was such as to enable the WLP to be watered down to under 1 Bq/gm so that it will no longer be considered radioactive by AELB. Recycling of radioactive wastes through dilution is never allowed or practiced anywhere else in the world!
Moreover, to entrust and seek approval from SIRIM on Condisoil’s safe usage is totally misplaced. SIRIM is the body that appraises and evaluates proposed industrial standards drafted by relevant professional bodies before they become Malaysian Standards. Does the SIRIM approval mean CondiSoil would become the Malaysian Standard for recycled radioactive wastes? Would this set a precedent among other industries churning out radioactive wastes to also “mix” their radioactive wastes, give it a fancy name and pass it off as a safe recycled industrial by-product?
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Malaysia is a warm and welcoming county. Rarely does her people rally in force against a corporation. Rarer still that such active protests persist for more than a decade, unrelenting. Anti-Lynas sentiments emerged soon after the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) project was approved in 2007. This was not unexpected, as no one wants to risk radioactive exposure from having a potentially hazardous rare earth refinery in one’s backyard. However, the slight negative sentiment and concern escalated to numerous nationwide demonstrations by 2012 when the plant commenced operations. Today, the anti-Lynas movement is still very much alive.
the Malaysian Minister of Finance approved Australian-based Lynas Corp’s Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) project with a package of special incentives, including “pioneer” status and a 12-year tax holiday.
the State of Pahang Department of Environment (DOE) approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for LAMP to be located in Gebeng, Kuantan. The Atomic Energy Licensing Board of Malaysia (AELB) approved the Siting and Construction Licence following an approval recommendation from the Licensing Division of the AELB. The Kuantan Local Council also approved the Development Order application.
AELB approved a temporary operating licence (TOL) for LAMP. This was challenged by residents in court on the grounds that it breached the Environmental Quality Act 1974, among others. The issuance of TOL was withheld pending the outcome of a hearing of an appeal by a group of residents to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister in April.
LAMP was granted a two-year TOL effective 3 September 2012, with a safe deposit of US$50 million and five conditions, including disclosure of a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for the storage of the plant’s radioactive water leached purification (WLP) waste.
Note that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its 2011 report had recommended that a PDF be identified before an operating licence is awarded to LAMP. AELB had granted a temporary stay on this condition; Lynas promised to comply within 10 months of LAMP’s operations. The TOL was arguably granted on the excuse that AELB needed to collect data on the various areas of LAMP’s operations including wastes produced.
As of today, Lynas has yet to identify the location of the PDF. Neither has there been any public notifications, publications or announcements by AELB on the issue.
LAMP entered production in 2013, producing 1,089 tonnes of rare-earth oxides in the first quarter of 2014, with a target of 11,000 tonnes per annum.
Despite the numerous protects, Lynas was on 2 September 2014 issued a two-year Full Operating Stage License (FOSL) by AELB. The licence was renewed in September 2016 for another three years despite calls to examine the non fulfilment of terms and written undertakings by Lynas to either recycle the radioactive WLP waste into industrial by-products or ship them overseas.
LAMP is designed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 8,000 hours a year, with a lifespan of 20 years. Each hour it produces approximately 36 tonnes ( dry weight) of solid wastes. The total volume of solid wastes that will be produced by LAMP prior to its decommissioning after 20 years is approximately 5.76 million tonnes! To put this figure into perspective, it is 15.6 times the weight of the steel used in the Petronas twin towers. The waste produced by LAMP over 20 years can fill Bukit Jalil Stadium 18 times over!
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The battle between two titans and Negeri Sembilan defended their title again for the second consecutive time in the 59th MABA/Matrix Agong Cup basketball championship.
Negeri Sembilan took down Malacca in the men’s final meet by 14 points, 78-64 despite an early lead by Malacca in the first half.
Malacca succumbed to their loss after losing key player Guganeswaran Batumalai in the early fourth quarter as Negeri Sembilan took on Malacca with a man-to-man full-court pressure to keep them at the bay.
Teo Kok Hou of Negeri Sembilan was crowned as the finals’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) with 16 points, 6 assist, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
Wong Yi Hou, Perry Lim and Ting Chun Hong bagged 18 points, 15 points and 10 points respectively. Perry also took home an individual award of the championship as the top rebounder with an average of 12 rebounds per game.
Malacca’s Chin Zhi Shin and Ma Chee Kheun led the team with 15 points each while Guga took home with 10 points.
It was back to ground zero between the two juggernauts of the men’s basketball finals. Despite the bitter loss to Negeri Sembilan in the preliminary rounds, it was not an easy challenge for the defending champions to take down Malacca.
The veterans versus the young national players: the clash of the titans between the two teams. Negeri Sembilan was keeping their moves tightly to Malacca with no clear leader in the first quarter.
Malacca took an early lead and raining their scores from the perimeter with three points from vets Guganeswaran Batumalai and Loh Shee Fai to keep their opponents at bay. Malacca was leading by five points in the early half, 10-5 but Negeri quickly overcame their lead 17-16 in the final two minutes of the game.
The hustle was kept as minimal despite many physical fouls in the court, both teams were playing a much careful game compared to the previous match in the preliminary rounds. A minor altercation between Kuek Tian Yuan and Ma Chee Kheun resulted in a short three-minute halt in the game after Perry Lim was hit on his throat from the hustle.
Ma returned the fire and Malacca reclaimed the lead from Negeri, taking a final buzzer beater shot from the perimeter, 19-22.
Negeri did not make it an easy path for Malacca in the second quarter but dynamic duo Guga and Chee Li Wei running on their baskets with more scores. Malacca was already in a comfortable lead of 8 points, 27-35.
As the evening rumbles into a thunderstorm at Cyberjaya, the crowd at the House of Champions rallied their teams in the court. Both teams were getting more defensive and physical as Negeri managed to shave Malacca’s lead down from 12 points to four, 40-44 in the last four minutes of the third quarter.
Malacca had to pay the price for numerous mistakes made in the final two minutes of the third quarter, giving away six crucial points for Negeri Sembilan to reclaim the lead, 50-48.
Luck was not on the side for Malacca as Wong Yi Hou’s three-pointer tops the five points scoring run for Negeri. Malacca was already trailing by 7 points in the early two minutes of the final quarter.
Plagued with poor stamina and seeing both gunners Guganeswaran down with a knee injury while Chee Li Wei and Ma Chee Kheun tried to defend the fort for Malacca but it was far too late for the team.
Negeri Sembilan steam-rolled their way and sealed the win with a final double-clutch dunk by Wong Yi Hou was the main highlight of the game, ending the match from a 7 point lead to 14 points win, 78-64.
Meanwhile, in the women’s first division finals, Kuala Lumpur finally took home the championship title from Selangor after a 10-year wait defeating the defending champion in a dramatic close match.
Kuala Lumpur clinched the title after taking down Selangor in a nail-biting game by merely two points, 57-59.
Below are the final results of the championship:
Men’s Division One
Champion – Negeri Sembilan
1st Runner Up – Malacca
2nd Runner Up – Sarawak
4th Placing – PDRM
Men’s Division Two
Champion – Maba Selection Team
1st Runner Up – Pahang
Women’s Division One
Champion – Kuala Lumpur
1st Runner Up – Selangor
2nd Runner Up – Malacca
4th Placing – Johor
Women’s Division Two
Champion – Penang
1st Runner Up – Negeri Sembilan
Here are the individual awards of the championship:
M – Teo Kok Hou (Negeri Sembilan)
W – Yap Fook Yee (Kuala Lumpur)
M – Wee Chuan Chin (PDRM)
W – Yap Fook Yee (Kuala Lumpur)
M – Perry Lim (Negeri Sembilan)
W – Sunny Chin (Sabah)
M – Soo Eng Heng (PDRM)
W – Saw Wei Yin (Selangor)
Top Defensive Player
M – Chee Li Wei (Malacca)
W – Chong Yin Yin (Selangor)
M – Soo Eng Heng (PDRM)
W – Yap Foo Yee (Kuala Lumpur)
Patrick Goi is a man of many talents. As the founder and managing PANGOI, Goi is also an accomplished chef and a ballroom dancer. He too is a recognised sommelier.
After nine years of working in a fashion and beauty retail industry, Goi decided that the time has come for him to set out on his own.
Known for his infectious energy, the affable Goi set up PANGOI Group Sdn Bhd in 2014 with the aim to redefine the world of fashion via its flagship brand name ‘PANGOI’.
As the founder of PANGOI, Goi’s primary responsibility is to expand the group’s market in Malaysia and beyond particularly the Asia Pacific and Middle-East.
‘Specifically, I make sure that we maintain a good rapport with our existing and potential clients and principle. I also head the research team, where we look into the demands and needs of our customers. Besides that, I guide and train my marketing team.”
Managing a new company in a highly competitive environment may sound daunting to some but Goi embraces all these head-on.
He noted that the toughest part of managing PANGOI is the fact that the industry itself is highly competitive.
“New products are being launched almost on a day-to-day basis, which means I have to be on my toes all the time in order to be updated on the latest trends, which will help me reach out to the customers more effectively,” he explained.
Goi has been working very hard in the past to learn more about the inner dealings of the industry so much so he has picked communication and networking skills.
“It helps with my confidence and I am now very motivated to make it big for my brand. Working in the marketing line has also taught me to be creative and innovative to reach out to the customers. Most importantly, it has taught me that the key to success is always to have a good attitude,” he acknowledged.
Born in Bukit Mertajam, Goi made the bold decision to leave the comforts of home for Kuala Lumpur at the tender age of 17 despite objections from his family.
“It wasn’t easy and I knew that. So even though I started from the very bottom of the ladder, I was still optimistic and motivated,” he recalled.
He reminisced the long hours he spent as a part-time promoter for different beauty products.
“It was tiring working and studying for my Diploma at the same time but it was worth it. As soon as I completed my studies, I began working at a department store,’ said Goi.
It was not long before he was promoted to a department manager position and Goi was only 21 years old.
“And I did not stop there. I knew that I had to do more so when I chose to continue my studies, I moved to the beauty and cosmetics industry as an assistant marketing manager for Total Image,” he shared.
This decision, he explained, did not only offer better career prospects but allowed him to work during the day and attend his classes in the evening.
When he completed his double degree in Economics and Business Management from the University of Greenwich, Goi found himself already in love with the fashion industry.
That was how his relationship with Alfio Raldo began.
“My first week on the job at Alfio Raldo was the longest and most tiring week of my life. I felt nervous to start a new chapter but at the same time, motivated to hold such a great responsibility in the company,’ he said.
Despite being new, his driven personality soon proved him to be a fast learner.
“It has always been about the end results for me and I make sure to put my skills to great use.”
The strategy proved to be fruitful. Within the first three months working for the company, Goi succeeded in getting the products listed on permanent counters in several department stores. How did he achieve the feat in such a short span of time?
“Persistence, persistence and persistence,” he shared with a laugh.
On a personal note, Goi still finds time to pursue his other interests.
“I love to cook and even participated in a cooking show on 8TV entitled Hot Chef. I am also a Latin dancer and have taken part in international ballroom competition overseas representing Malaysia!”
“When I am not cooking or dancing, I like to watch movies and listen to music. When I feel like breaking into a sweat, I find squash a great way to keep healthy.”
That certainly doesn’t mean that he is at the height of his potentials.
With a prospective MBA and a successful local fashion brand slowly making its way into the international market within the next five years, he has quite a journey of self-discovery waiting for him.
Key values that the company promotes include honesty, passion, results-driven, effective communication and sharing of knowledge and expertise.
“It is essential for our staff to uphold these values in order for us to achieve our collective goal.”
PANGOI Group Sdn Bhd was established in 2014 by Patrick Goi, who is also its managing director.
Riding on its founder’s vast experience in the retail industry, the company dabbles primarily in leather lifestyle products and merchandises.
Although a new player, the company strives to maintain the highest standards of materials and workmanship. PANGOI remains committed to carefully upholding the principles of quality and integrity that define the company.
The company’s products represent the unique combination of Malaysian culture and attitude, and superior product quality and durability as well as its commitment to world class customer service.
Today, the company is carrying its own brand, PANGOI, which aims to fulfil women’s desires to own a high quality yet affordably priced handbags, wallets and purses.
For that, PANGOI creates fresh new looks to appeal to modern women not only in Malaysia but also across the region from Australia to the Middle East.
Goi is engaging designers from Australia, Indonesia and Dubai to design and produce PANGOI handbags and purses where rich details are paired with high technical innovation.
Today, PANGOI products are available at its six outlets in Malaysia. It also is opening its first international outlet in Istanbul soon. Plans are afoot to have more outlets in Malaysia and abroad.
To ensure that all will be able to enjoy his handbags, Goi has also introduced PG for PANGOI, a much more affordable line that encapsulates PANGOI’s elegant and upscale designs.
The intention of this line was to make inexpensive fashion available for all.