IPOH, March 17 2012 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today said the setting up of a parliamentary select committee (PSC) to look into issues related to the Lynas rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang, is an engagement process with the public to ensure that the matter is well understood by them.
However, the Prime Minister said that the committee would not decide on the fate of the project.
"It has to do with the process of engagement with the people and for them (PSC) to look at all aspects of the project, especially the safety factor and any possible threats to health," he told reporters after opening Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Wan Hwa 2's new four-storey building costing RM9 million, here.
Reports said the cabinet which met yesterday gave the green light for the establishment of the committee amid concerns over the plant's possible safety and health risks.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz was quoted as saying that the nine-member committee, comprising four representatives from the Barisan Nasional, three from the opposition and one independent member, would be headed by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin.
Commenting further, Najib said the government must have an engagement with the rakyat so that any project carried out would not be opposed by the people or create public fear.
"On the Lynas issue, we feel there are still certain things that we need to fulfill, that is, the engagement process, so that we can convince the groups who are still suspicious whether the project is safe or otherwise," Najib said.
The Prime Minister hoped that the committee could raise awareness on the project so that "we can achieve comfort in terms of better public acceptance."
In KUALA LUMPUR, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the committee should solicit views from experts "rather than listening to politicians and activists".
He was hopeful that the committee would get to the truth of the matter and clear up confusion with regard to the project.
Koh also said that the rare earth plant should not start operations until the PSC concluded its tasks.
Meanwhile, commenting on Gerakan's preparations for the general election, he said the party was evaluating potential candidates to be fielded.
On his senatorship which ends on April 8, he said: "We'll wait until that day because it's the prerogative of the prime minister and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. I don't think it's proper for me to comment on it."