Dr Lee Boon Chye, Vice President and Chairman of the Health and Science Bureau, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, urged the government to have a national referendum before embarking on Nuclear power plant. This follows the announcement on 4th May 2010 by the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui that the Cabinet has approved to build a nuclear power plant, which is expected to be commissioned by the year 2021.
Dr Lee, who is also Member of Parliament, Gopeng expressed regret that such an important policy which has long term, serious implication on Rakyat was made without due deliberation in or out of Parliament. There was no consultation or attempt to get feedback from the Rakyat. This clearly runs contrary to the “People first” concept of 1-Malaysia.
Dr Lee expressed that at a time when advance nation like Germany is planning to phased-out nuclear energy altogether, we should not be rushing into it. There are many burning issues which demand attention and these include high initial cost (a 4th generation, 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor with life span of up to 60 years can cost RM 6-10 billion to build), health-environmental-security hazards as well as impact on alternative renewable energy such as solar and hydro-power.
It did not help when two fighter jet engines were found missing from the tight-security air-force base. Incidence such as this will certainly cast doubts on the ability of the government to guarantee security of the nuclear power plant from potential terrorist attack.
Dr Lee Boon Chye also expressed regret that following the launch of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE ), which aimed to developed fully the 20,000 Megawatt of hydro-power at the state of Sarawak, there was no follow up action whatsoever. Until today, whether or not there will be cable transmitting electricity from Sarawak to West Malaysia, beginning with 2400 Megawatt Bakun hydropower plant, remains unknown.
Dr Lee also slammed the government for putting little effort in promoting non-fossil renewable energy such as solar and biomass. The current usage of renewable energy is still less than 5% of the total energy usage, far short of the target set by the ministry, which is 10% by 2010.
With advances in alternative energy especially solar, the cost of solar energy has reduced to level comparable to Nuclear and fossil fuel. For example the Stirling Energy and Southern California Edison have announced plan to construct a solar generating station in Southern California which is able to generate electricity at a cost of RM 0.19/kWh(USD 0.06/kWh), as compared to natural gas of RM 0.16/kWh.
Dr Lee suggests to the ministry that :
1. Establish a clear policy on supply of Hydro-power from Sarawak to West Malaysia.
2. Fully explore alternative renewable energy source, especially solar and biomass.
3. Hold a national referendum for nuclear energy, before starting the construction of the nuclear plant.
Dr Lee Boon Chye
Chairman of Health and Science Bureau, Parti Keadilan Rakyat