Friday, March 25, 2011

Najib is right, Muhyuddin is right, it's very clear, let's go nuclear

Trojan Nuclear Power PlantImage by Curtis Gregory Perry via Flickr

by Howl Pillai

Why fear? The Government is here!
But first an admission. Mothers of my generation were all radioactive. They mothered us and got the housework done without a maid in sight. All they needed to remain active the whole day was a radio kept on for songs, chats, dramas and news. They were truly radio active! But there is a lethal variant of radioactivity.
Let us kick off the discussion of lethal radioactivity with a quote from a Russian scientist in the aftermath of Chernobyl: “The most dangerous fallout was the lies the Government told. That includes the Western ones too”.
Fortunately we are an Eastern one! We have high ethical, moral and religious values in case you haven’t noticed. And more importantly, our Government does not lie to us. And we will know they are lying when they tell us. And I am sure they will tell us the truth about any lying on their part using all of the print media, radio and TV at their disposal. Given all this surely you are not going to ask whether  we can trust them?
And then there are critics of nuclear technology as a source of energy. Writers and thinkers in the West say that our civilisation built on sophisticated science and technology is fragile and a mere 200 years old. How can we secure it for future generations with nuclear technology that can potentially have ill-effects that lasts thousands of years? Look at what is happening in Japan. She is a leading nation in science and technology. Japanese win Nobel prizes with astounding regularity. And yet they are struggling heroically to cope with Fukushima. We? We are still at the gadget making level. But who said we are going nuclear to take our place among the leading scientific nations of the world?
The government has been upfront in explaining that power is at centre of the argument for nuclear power stations. They have never mentioned hefty commissions, vested interests or front companies. After all what proof has the government to say such wild and unsubstantiated things about others? I told you they are fair and we too  have to be fair......acquiring nuclear power stations are a lot more complex and complicated than purchasing submarines. Many more agents, negotiators and even translators will be required. Meetings in Paris, London, Moscow and Washington. Some expenses and some entertainment. Surely we must accept this as reasonable. Must we still doubt their good intentions?
And we cannot be left out of the nuclear technology industry.We are still gunning for Vision 2020!I am sure the Minister in charge knows what he is doing. If not, he would not have become a minister. Besides we have a Parliament.They will scrutinise the actions of our Ministers. Like always. The Executive has to answer to Parliament! The People are supreme! Remember we have fair and free elections! And as a further check on the powers of the Executive their decisions can be challenged in our courts. Surely you are not now going to say that our judiciary is not independent?
And then there is this issue of ‘when will we ever learn’. An ex-PM was ever so found of urging us that there is nothing we cannot do if we set our mind to it. Of course we will make mistakes. The Americans made theirs at Three Mile Island; the Russians at Chernobyl and now the Japanese. So safety also has to be learned. Besides it will boost our confidence in our people and their innate abilities. That is the way the Minister will explain this issue, I think. And then I am sure he will also share his vision for us in the field of nuclear technology. One day our researchers may discover a new isotope. And we get to name it! Perhaps we will call it Bolehrium. Or Mahathirium. Or Umnorium. Won’t that be great for the country’s image?
And one day soon we will have Independent Nuclear Power Producers like we have IPPs now. That is surely progress. And we are sure INPPs will supply power to TNB at even cheaper rates than the IPPs charge now. And besides we know no one can pull the wool on TNB’s eyes twice. Or the government’s. Our government is there to make sure citizen- consumers like us are not screwed out of our hard earned money. The negotiations on rates will surely be transparent and in the best interests of the Rakyat. The Rakyat cannot go on subsidising crony capitalists forever. Don’t you think we should urge the government to rush the building of nuclear power plants on account of this alone?
And you must simply believe the government when they say they have experts to study these complex issues and advise them on it. Everything the government wants to tell you will be done transparently. No effort will be spared to employ the right consultants of international repute. A special team will be formed to decide on the location of the nuclear power plant. Because our government is always fair, Kuantan in Pahang State will be excluded as a potential site given that the Lynas Rare Earth Processing Plant is already located there. Papan in Perak State is now Asia’s largest radioactive dumpsite and is also excluded. Penang is an opposition held state. Johore State is DPM territory. All of Malacca State is near the sea. And Negri Sembilan State? That will fall to the opposition soon and besides it is my home state.  Where then do you think we should put our very first nuclear power plant?
For me, the winner is Putrajaya! The Pride of the Nation! The Seat of our Government!

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