22nd January 2015.
The government recently announced that the way forward on Malaysia’s nuclear power program will be decided once the comprehensive study including public consultation are concluded. And these consultations scheduled in the next weeks are organized by the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation.
This mantra of ‘comprehensive study and public consultation’ has been floated umpteenth times by the government.
The irony is that there are two sets of plans on the nuclear power program that has been floated by the government in the last years.
First, we have the World Nuclear Association[ http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Others/Emerging-Nuclear-Energy-Countries/] (WNA), report that says that Malaysia wants to develop three to four nuclear power plants (NPP) to supply about 15% of the nation’s electricity demand by 2030. The report suggests that the first plant is scheduled to begin operation in the year 2021.
It further states that a nuclear energy bill will be brought to parliament in 2015.
Second, Parliamentary replies to me in 2014 says that the government is studying the possibility of two new power plants of 1000 Megawatt (Mw) each.
And the Nuclear Power Regulatory Infrastructure Development Plan (NDPRID) has been established to spearhead the nuclear project including identifying various construction sites.
In addition, the government is consulting with the various international agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to secure necessary licenses and permits from these international nuclear regulatory bodies.
Whichever scenario one chooses to believe, it is clear then that the plans for nuclear power in Malaysia is real and is moving forward in a scripted and rapid pace.
So, why the need for public consultations?
These public forums would serve to promote nuclear energy use and legitimate government’s rationale for NPPs. Such an effort could have come from the advice given by the Koreans and Japanese nuclear agencies that have an MOU with Malaysia on promoting nuclear power plants in the country.
The government needs to come clean on its plans and strategies. It needs to be transparent and not play hide and seek with the people including stakeholders. As an important first step towards good governance, the government should establish a parliamentary select committee on nuclear power plants.
Member of Parliament, Klang.