KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — Putrajaya today admitted that it made a “mistake” by allowing uncontrolled bauxite mining in Pahang, but pledged to rectify the matter.
In his Invest Malaysia keynote address, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government was committed to pursuing sustainability in Malaysia and will ensure guidelines are in place before lifting the moratorium on bauxite mining in Kuantan.
“Of course, sometimes we make mistakes, the bauxite contamination on our East Coast is an example.
“But we are taking steps to deal with it; we have just extended the ban on mining for another three months, and we will insist that strict guidelines are put in place before it is lifted,” he said.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar last week announced a three-month extension beginning April 15 on the moratorium on bauxite mining.
The extension, he said, was among others to enable the existing bauxite stockpile of almost four million tonnes to be cleared or exported.
According to reports, Pahang residents had been suffering from bauxite mining pollution for over two years before the moratorium first came into effect this January.
Following public backlash over health and environmental concerns last December, the federal government agreed to suspend the activity in Pahang for three months to ensure a full clean-up and review of regulations.
The clean-up operation involve more than 100 personnel, including from the Kuantan Municipal Council, firemen, Alam Flora Sdn Bhd and the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation.