‘Op­po­si­tion’s dis­in­for­ma­tion helped it in GE13’

New Straits Times - - News -

K U A N TA N : The op­po­si­tion spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion on the Lynas rare earth re­fin­ery in Gebeng helped the then Pakatan Rakyat pact se­cure more votes in the 13th Gen­eral Elec­tion (GE13) in 2013.

Pa­hang Umno deputy chair­man Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Sham­sudin said the op­po­si­tion spread dis­in­for­ma­tion based on as­sump­tions about the plant, which caused fear among vot­ers.

He said the wide­spread dis­in­for­ma­tion worked as many peo­ple, es­pe­cially in Kuan­tan, turned against the rare earth re­fin­ery and even helped

PKR’s Fuziah Salleh re­tain her Kuan­tan par­lia­men­tary seat, which she first won in 2008.

On the May 5 polls in 2013, Fuziah suc­ceeded in hold­ing on to the seat with a 4,515 ma­jor­ity over Barisan Na­sional can­di­date Datuk Mo­hamed Suf­fian Awang, then Kuan­tan Umno chief.

Speak­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ence on the cam­paign trail in the state, Sharkar re­called en­coun­ter­ing many vot­ers who raised the is­sue of Lynas’s safety.

“They believed that the plant was emit­ting ra­di­a­tion and that it was sim­i­lar to a nu­clear plant.

“Five years on, noth­ing have hap­pened (in terms of ra­di­a­tion sick­ness and other ra­di­a­tion-re­lated neg­a­tive ef­fects),” he said yes­ter­day, adding that the plant did not even “ex­plode”, which was an­other al­le­ga­tion spread by cer­tain quar­ters.

Sharkar said un­til to­day, no res­i­dent in the vicin­ity of the plant sold their prop­erty out of fear of the pur­ported ra­di­a­tion leak.

“In fact, prop­erty prices, in some cases, have gone up from RM200,000 (per prop­erty) to RM500,000. No­body is mov­ing away,” he said.

Sharkar, who is also Lan­chang assem­bly­man, said it was im­por­tant for vot­ers to wise up to the op­po­si­tion’s tac­tics.

Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Sham­sudin

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