Anyone wishing to take on Azalina's challenge of a debate on this matter should take note...
"On May 13 2011, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Petronas will invest RM60bil in a major integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Pengerang, Johor. The Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project by Petronas, as it is known, is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2016, as part of the national oil company's efforts to expand its downstream production.
Exactly a year later on May 13 2012, when the RAPID project was officially launched, the total value is now RM120bil, with expected investments from Taiwanese and German petrochemical companies, easily making this Pengerang project the biggest-ever in the history of this nation.
There are many issues and questions to ask but I want to list down 10 big questions to ask the government about this massive project."
"Question 1 - The RAPID Project requires 6,424 acres of land but why is the Johor government using the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to acquire 22,500 acres of land? We hope a plausible and detailed explanation for its justification is forthcoming so that the government would not be accused of using Rapid as an excuse to grab land from the ordinary people of Pengerang.
Question 2 – What is going to happen to the fishermen and smallholders who would have lost their means of livelihood? There are about 3,100 residents within the seven villages affected, who earned a living as fishermen and smallholders. Though some argued that 40,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase and 4,000 by the time the projects are completed in 2016, the reality are for many of these affected fishermen and farmers, it would be difficult for them to work in these new jobs because their skills are different.
Question 3 - It has been reported that licensed fishermen are being offered RM30,000 compensation whilst unlicensed ones are offered half that amount. Smallholders with 1-2 acres land are offered between RM65,000 to RM105,000 for their land. As a "sweetener", the Johor government is offering "subsidized" alternative housing on 6,000 sq.ft. of land with built-up area between 750 to 1,600 sq.ft. The discounted prices the villagers would have to pay for these houses range from RM35,000 to RM105,000. In short, they would have given up their 1-2 acres of land and houses in exchange for 6,000 sq.ft. of land with a house on it, some 15-20km away, with little or no money in their pocket and no land to earn a living. I am told many of these lands are shared between several siblings in the first place, thus, after dividing the compensation they won't even be able to afford the "subsidized" housing. Is this a fair deal?
Question 4 - Why is our government so keen to welcome KuoKuang Petrochemical of Taiwan when they have been rejected by their own country? Again, like the Lynas case, is our government telling us that Malaysian lives are worth not only less than the Australian but also now, less than the Taiwanese? We have to understand why the Taiwanese people were so against KuoKuang before we welcome them into our land.
Question 5 - Is it true that a petrochemical plant the scale of Rapid would need massive amount of processed water a day to operate, almost 75% of Johor's current daily consumption? If this is true, wouldn't it cause acute water shortages in Johor? Have the government foresaw this and made plans to increase the supply of processed water for the state?
Question 6 - Apart from consuming large quantity of water, it would also need large quantity of electrical energy? If not, has the government made plans to increase the energy output in Johor? Has this got anything to do with the rumoured nuclear power plants to be setup in Pengerang? What would our neighbour across the straits have to say about this, especially in the light of the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster?
Question 7 - In May 2009, during a visit to Singapore, PM Najib proposed to his counterpart PM Lee Hsien Loong that a third link be built linking Pengerang to Singapore. When would this proposal be followed-up with another announcement? Would it be after all the land near this third link has been acquired and parceled to third party companies so that they can make a killing?
Question 8 – Currently the Department of Environment (DOE) requires developers to submit the EIA report. This report is paid for by the developers, in this case Petronas. Can we trust the glowing DEIA (Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment) report by Integrated Envirotect Sdn Bhd? Isn’t it a case of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”? Shouldn’t an independent panel of local and international experts be appointed to do the DEIA so that the integrity of the report would not be compromised and the truth of potential environmental impact can be known?
Question 9 – It is oppression to the local communities when you unilaterally announce a major development without consultation. That was what happened in Pengerang. When PM Najib made the announcement in May 2011, it was said that even the local state assemblyman was clueless, let alone the villagers. Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is an approach outlined in international human rights law and declarations. It recognizes the right of local affected people to be consulted, and to negotiate with, project developers on the impact of a project on their community. Have the voices of the Pengerang people being heard?
Question 10 - For all the claims of huge economic benefits these petrochemical projects would bring to this country, we hear that the Taiwanese company, KuoKuang Petrochemical will be given a tax holiday of 10-years! Their government rejected them and ours give them this incentive to move here. While we, the taxpayer pay our government to look after us, hazardous foreign companies are invited into our country to pollute us tax-free, denying us probably billions in taxes which could have bee used to clean up the environment and improve health care here. What is going on here?"
10 Big Questions about Pengerang