Wong Tack and his comrades are on their own - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, September 09, 2019
MP Wong Tack
Malaysiakini : “Not only is he making an about-turn, but he is continuing to
posture meaninglessly. He has a public office, a mandate from the people
and is accountable to the people in the next election, so if he has any
moral fibre in him, he should quit the government in protest.” - MCA vice-president Ti Lian Ker
COMMENT | Bentong MP Wong Tack (above)
asking the MACC to investigate individuals in the Prime Minister's
Office (PMO) office for the Lynas FAQ it distributed is an unproductive
attempt to change the narrative. So are his comments implying that there
are individuals in the PMO who are on the take - “his officers
relegated to become the mouthpiece of Lynas”.
that the prime minister would not have allowed the PMO to be compromised
is laying it on a bit thick, considering the kleptocratic roots of
mainstream Malaysian politics.
by green lighting the Lynas deal, the government has effectively become
the mouthpiece of Lynas, or at the very least will do everything in its
power to convince the rakyat that what it did was good for the country.
politics of Lynas, which consisted of appeals to emotion, has now
turned into something else. Before the election, the anti-Lynas
activists had political support, but now they are bereft of such
support. Politicians who, before the election, threw their weight behind
the cause, are now in positions of power. They are embroiled in their
quest to maintain power, and they have other avenues – Lynas is a
potential moneymaker after all – that they can pursue, instead of
relying on single-issue causes.
As it is, the Lynas deal is mired in all sorts of quid pro quo,
hence any attempt to paint certain individuals in the government as
complicit in this deal is problematic because, collectively, Harapan has
turned its back on the Lynas issue, moving on to other issues. What
Wong Tack and his allies should be doing is responding to this FAQ and
arguing their position on a scientific and rational basis, instead of
demanding that a state agency investigates people from the PMO. If the
people in the PMO are acting as mouthpieces for Lynas, it is because
Harapan has made it clear that Lynas is here to stay, at least for a
of course, the PMO and other interested parties are going to spin the
deal that the government made, especially when the pre-election rhetoric
tarred Lyanas as something which was a danger to Malaysians. What else
would you expect the government to do in this situation, especially
since this particular backtrack not only jeopardizes environmental
activism, but also the government's commitment to the environment? Now,
if Wong Tack had evidence that there were individuals in Harapan or in
the government who were on the Lynas payroll, he should make his
allegations public or make a complaint to the MACC, instead of asking
the MACC to investigate the PMO's office as some sort of publicity
I would have thought that when this FAQ was put out, the
anti-Lynas camp would have responded to it, point by point. This is the
problem. Before the 14th general election, the then Harapan opposition
appealed to emotions when it came to the Lynas issue. Everything the BN
government did become an existential threat to Malaysia. Nobody argued
about the science of Lynas because Harapan supporters were told the BN
regime was complicit in the possible deaths that could occur because of
Harapan politicians claimed Lynas was an environmental
issue, and the BN regime had no problem destroying the environment for
profit. Now, of course, the profit motive does not seem so bad. Heck,
Lynas has defenders within the government, including the prime minister
of Malaysia. Hence, Wong Tack claiming that the PM would not want to
sully his office is even more bizarre.
All that is left is the
science of it. But where does the science stand? Harapan is now making
the argument that Lynas is no longer the existential threat it was.
Suddenly Lynas is safe. Or, like I said in another piece, maybe Lynas was safe all along.
Lynas is the threat the anti-Lynas crowd claims it is, then what we
have is the Harapan regime doing the exact same thing as the previous BN
regime. If the BN regime was culpable in the possible deaths due to
Lynas, then so is the Harapan regime. This is what happens when your
arguments are based on an appeal to emotion.
Getting back to the
FAQ. Instead of claiming some sort of conspiracy within the PMO, what
the anti-Lynas activists should be doing is countering the propaganda of
The fact that Wong Tack is part of the ruling
coalition makes it all the more difficult. Is Wong Tack claiming that
the Harapan government is lying to the Malaysian public? Is Wong Tack
claiming that the Harapan government is choosing profit over the safety
of the people who are affected by the Lynas move?
The fact that,
so far, Wong Tack’s strategy seems to be to point to conspiracies,
instead of making his case with science, is troubling. If Lynas is a
threat to Malaysian lives, as anti-Lynas activists claimed before the
election, and that the government was profiting from the disposal of
hazardous waste in this country, these same activists should make their
case based on rational argument instead of continuing to rely on pleas
to emotion. With Harapan’s backtracking of the Lynas issue and the
near-total silence from those who claimed that shutting down Lynas
would save Malaysia, Wong Tack and his comrades are on their own.
least now we know that either Malaysia never needed to be saved from
Lynas or maybe, like the previous BN regime, Harapan does not really
care about the environmental impact of Lynas.
Wong Tack is in the unenviable position of having to make the case for the latter.