Malaysia has approved a proposal to set up a nuclear power plant which will start operating from 2021, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin announced today. It is the first country in Southeast Asia to announce a nuclear power plant, a sensitive matter in the ASEAN grouping which has always espoused a nuclear-free zone.
Considering the track record of Malaysia in terms of the maintenance of facilities, I really shudder at the thought of this. The problem with Malaysia is that it always builds this and that, in its attempt to project a certain image to the world (or attempt to be the first in something) but never bothers to maintain it. Just look at our zoos, parks, stadiums, buildings, toilets etc. Will this be another Chernobyl in the making?
With all the rampant corruption going on, I wonder if this is just another money-making, pocket-filling enterprise by some top government politician. Do we trust some of these corrupt officials and contractors to get the plant built with safety in mind? Or will they be more interested in squeezing as much profit out of it? And how will all the radioactive waste be disposed? Dump them into a river or into the ocean? That’s how Malaysia works, right?
I am glad that I am not alone in having such reservations. And I’m glad that the Malaysian Nature Society is looking into this issue. Whether the government will heed the voices of the public is another matter entirely. Of course, between money in their pocket and public concerns, we know politicians have always gone for the former. Who cares about the people anyway?
A follow-up article in Malaysian Insider today has this to say:
Environmentalists and alternative energy producers have criticised the approval for Malaysia’s first nuclear power plant, saying it was rushed through without adequate public consultation given the risks of radioactivity. Centre for Environment, Technology And Development Malaysia (Cetdem) chairman Gurmit Singh said a nuclear power plant was a risky undertaking and slammed the lack of public consultation.“Why is there no public consultation?” Gurmit asked when contacted by The Malaysian Insider. “I had previously asked for the nuclear energy policy to be made public. Why so secretive?”Gurmit, who is unconvinced that Malaysia needs nuclear energy, pointed out that nuclear power plants generate radioactive waste that needs to be disposed of and, according to him, only 2 countries — France and Britain — can currently process nuclear waste.