RAUB (Oct 17, 2010): LIKE many, the residents of Bukit Koman want three things in life -- good health, peace, and a good environment to leave to the next generation.
However some residents feel all these are under threat in Bukit Koman. They say the Raub Australia Gold Mining Sdn Bhd (RAGM), located about 900m from the village is polluting the air, poses a risk to the environment and is affecting their health.
Residents are also crying foul as the Environmental Impact Assessment was completed in 1996, although the mine only started operations 11 years later. Politicians have been avoiding them and police have, at times, stopped residents from protesting or arrested them for entering the mine.
Hue Fui How, who has lived in Bukit Koman for more than 30 years, claims members of the community are getting sick regularly with skin and eye conditions, breathing difficulties and stress.
"For old people like us, our immune systems are down. My speech is already slowing down.
"It may be psychological. It could be air-borne pollution. No-one knows … Not even the doctors."
Liew See Yong and Chan Ah Lan suffer from skin conditions. Liew went to a local doctor who could not locate the source of the irritation, yet suggested it could be a result of stress, an allergy or something air-borne.
Chan also has a skin condition that started two years ago. She has seen skin specialists and claims to have spent more than RM20,000 on treatment to no avail.
Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, a dermatologist, when shown photographs, said Chan’s skin condition resembled Urticaria.
Datuk Seri Andrew Kam who owns the RAGM gold mine said he is yet to see anyone with such a skin condition.
"If they have a legitimate reason to believe it is related to the mine they should show me," he said.
However, members of the Bukit Koman Anti-Cyanide Committee (BKACC) dispute this, having staged protests against the mine and have resorted to the courts to stop the use of potentially toxic chemicals in the mine.
Bukit Koman Resident and assistant secretary of the BKACC Hue Fui How said there has never been any health inspections in the area and doubts the other departments are monitoring the situation.
"For the last six months I have not seen anyone from the health department," he said.
BKACC president Wong Kim Loong feels the government could do more.
"We went through all the proper channels. Nothing was done," he said, adding that the mine is too close to the village.
"Heavy industries should be at least five kilometres from a village."-- theSun