"It is possible for cyanide to leak during the transfer if sufficient precautions are not taken. And if that happens, water supplies in the Klang Valley will be affected" - Tan Hui Chun (Environment and safety consultant)
"Hasil kajian Kementerian Kesihatan mengenai tahap kesihatan
penduduk sekitar kawasan itu, menunjukkan tiada kesihatan penduduk terjejas akibat bahan kimia sianida." - T Muruhiah (Timbalan Menteri, Jabatan Perdana Menteri)
- Zorro unmasked started probing on this a few weeks back and Malaysiakini reported on 25th June 2009 that Murugiah announced that the health of 3,000 residents of Bukit Koman, Raub is not in danger of cyanide poisoning. That is fast when Bernama broke the news on 23rd June 2009 quoting Murugiah's pledge that he will investigate the matter.
- I didn't say this but I remember in one movie...
"Look, I don't know shit about shit but I know right from wrong!" - Erin Brockovich
- Just because Bukit Koman's residents are simple folks in out of town Raub does not give the license for Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGM) to do what they pleased.
- The residents had listed their complaints of :-
- Cyanide-like odour in the place;
- Headaches, breathing difficulties and skin irritation;
- noise pollution etc
- Now, let us go back to the reports and see what Murugiah said. On noise, Jabatan Alam Sekitar (JAS) reported that they measure noise produce by RAGM at 48.7 Db which is lower the allowed 55 Db.
- Let's say that the readings are correct. When is the readings taken? Is RAGM operating at normal production during the readings? How far are the sound meters placed? Is it aimed at the source (noise) ? What is the height of the meter? Who witness the tests? Are the results independently verified ? Are the sound meters calibrated?
- On cyanide issue, this is no joking matter. Cambodia and Vietnam have cases of cyanide poisoning in rivers where the effects is 10 years down the line. In certain parts of Cambodia, the natural cyanide caused cancer since there is no proper water treatment system.
- In history, there is questions whether Napoleon Bonarparte died of arsenic poisoning. Even in Malaysia, the one time Deputy Prime Minister also accused someone of administering him with cyanide poisoning. What this tells you is that cyanide poisoning is difficult to detect and if it happens in Bukit Koman, what hope is there that the authorities will trace down the culprits? The most taht will be done will be mass relocation of the population on some pretentious issue like SARS, maybe?
- About headache, the report mentioned that 93 are sampled and out of 93 samplings, 6 claimed headache. That will be 6.5%. Is that normal for Malaysians? Is it a normal standard? If it is, then all is well and fine. If not, then what has the Jabatan Kesihatan has to say about it? Is it their diet? Is it their style of living? Is it the air? Is it the water? If this is an issue, then investigate the root cause. Saying that it is normal and acceptable limit must be validated with data. You just can't say it's OK when it's not!!
- Another blogger, Antares mentioned that one of the important share holder is a Pahang VVIP. To this scribe, everybody needs to make a living. But it must be honest living. Putting a VVIP in the board does not absolve the company from its social responsibilities. In fact, companies with VVIP shareholders should be more responsible than responsible. They are supposed to be the model companies in terms of social responsibilities and sensitive to the surounding needs and problems.
- Touching on social responsibilities, the Bukit Koman issue should be closely monitored by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM). Is SAM aware of RAGM? Is SAM aware of the EIA? What is SAM's stand on this? If SAM has been persistently monitoring the EIA reports for the Pahang-Selangor water tunnel project, then SAM should be equally persistent in monitoring Bukit Koman issue.
- It is always been the case of Malaysian authorities. When a project is new, it will always come up with proposals on waste disposal and monitoring. A case of example is the Tioxide plant in Terengganu. International companies will be presenting the authorities with sophisticated plans on how they dispose toxic waste, how they manage toxic waste, how they store toxic waste etc etc. On paper, it will be the best, the most innovative, the most up to date at par with world's standard. In practise? Who will monitor the waste disposal? Who verify their management system? Who recorded their toxic waste storage? This is more so critical for Bukit Koman residents as Bukit Koman is way too rural to be noticed. There, RAGM may be "king" to do what they please.
- Planning and executing are 2 different things. RAGM may have the best plannings, but who will monitor their planning and execution? RAGM may claim that they have safety officers under them but paid safety officers may be subject to the whims and fancies of RAGM.
- Remember Lubok Mandi? During the "gold rush" fever, some died when their makeshift tunnels collapsed. That was a tragedy but in was instant. You can see and watch it. Here in Bukit Koman, arsenic poisoning is slow and sure. It will not be instantaneous. It will be slow and painful. So my qquestion - who will monitor RAGM's activities? Will it be on regular monitoring? Will it be done by independent third parties? Will it be carried out by JAS? Frankly, this scribe is suspicious of government authorities because with "kopi", everything jadi.....
- Murugiah should not be too fast in declaring Bukit Koman as safe. It needs continous monitoring. Do we have the expertise? Do we have the labs? Do we follow international standards?
- To be fair to Murugiah, he did called for special hearing on 25th June 2009 but none of ukit Koman residents turned up. The reason given by the residents is that they have a prior engagement with other parties, set up 1 month ago and Muru's hearing was called last minute. The residents claimed that they have called to explain their absence.
- Gold mining in Bukit Koman is fine but we surely hope that Bukit Koman will not hit international news as a kampung devastated by arsenic poisoning. That said, can Murugiah guarantees no arsenic poisoning in Bukit Koman for at least another 8 years? Heck, I don't think Murugiah can give the assurance because he may be gone from PM's department soon if Kayveas get his way. If Kayveas fails to oust Murugiah from PM's department, maybe the rakyat will when GE 13 comes around....