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Stop this rumour mongering!

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A Johor protest group is under fire, accused of cynically manipulating the murder suicide of a family in Pengerang, Johor, as part of its campaign against the RM60 billion Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID).

Pang Kim Yong, 63, killed himself, his wife Wong Ah Heng, 56, and their disabled 21-year-old son Pang Kee How at their home by deliberate smoke inhalation over New Year. This tragedy was seized upon by the so-called grassroots group Gabungan NGO Pengerang (GNP) who said the cause of the incident was the house acquisition programme to make way for RAPID.

“GNP feels very sad over the tragedy in which a poor family was unable to take the pressure of life, as a result of the land acquisition by the developers, and finally was forced to commit suicide,” the group’s treasurer Chua Peng Sin said Thursday.

Really, Peng Sin? Are you a qualified counsellor or investigator? Have you talked to the father before this awful tragedy? This statement is both presumptuous and false and has caused intense distress to the surviving members of the family who have now made a police complaint against GNP.

How an NGO could seize on the private grief of a family to further its cause beggars belief.

But Peng Sin continued: “We also urge the government to care over what happened, if the relevant parties still insist on this development, it is believed will cause more tragedies in Pengerang.”

GNP’s statement is totally divorced from the facts. Police have revealed the father had suffered long-term depression, had reportedly tried to kill himself in the past, and the case had nothing to do with RAPID, a fact backed by father’s brother.

Kota Tinggi district police chief Superintendent Che Mahazan Che Aik said the real cause of this tragedy was the stress of caring for a disabled wife and child. “It is as said by his younger brother, he was stressed because his wife was sick… nothing to do with the RAPID project,” he said.

“It has been twisted by irresponsible media,” he added.

If there is a line defining what is and isn’t acceptable for any political activist group then GNP has crossed it. It is one thing to tell lies about the Scorpene issue like Suaram did last year, but to hijack the grief of non-political private citizens like this really is beyond the pale.

The members of GNP should hang their heads in shame.

They also might want to be open and honest about any links to Pakatan Rakyat they have. Given that they have been caught using such shabby tactics, now might be a good time to clear the air.

Situated so close to oil-hungry Singapore, the RAPID project is set to turn Pengerang into a petrochemical hub creating up to 40,000 jobs in construction, refining and ancillary industries.

But the project has exposed the endless contradictions that plague Pakatan Rakyat and serves to warn us about how Prime Minister Anwar would manage – or scare away – large scale investments that are vital to this nation’s future.

Just last September Johor PKR chief Datuk Chua Jui Meng, reported to be “speaking on behalf Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim” said: “This is Anwar’s message to you. When PR wins the Malaysian government…(Anwar) will stop this RAPID project.”

A week later PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayub said Pakatan Rakyat doesn’t oppose the RAPID project.

“I would like to state that we have never opposed development in Pengerang. This is a guarantee I would like to give – that Rapid and Petronas can continue their development in Pengerang,” he said.

Anwar then shuffled into the frame observing “we have had some confusion over this matter” before promising a temporary halt.

From the start the Government has been consistent promoting RAPID for the good of the nation. Pakatan Rakyat has flip-flopped while their fellow travellers at GNP have impinged upon the private grief of a family by imposing their own agenda on a tragic murder-suicide.

The whole episode has been appalling. What everyone needs to do next is to calm down and allow RAPID to go ahead for the good of Johor and Malaysia.  –  The Choice