As you know, US has declared a trade war with China. US President Donald Trump simply imposed 25% tariff on all goods from China without thinking of the consequences. Moreover, he has banned the sale of Huawei 5G technology and mobile phones in the USA and some other countries. No one can win in any kind of war.
Among the many actions to retaliate China stopped exporting rare earth. China has 90% of the rare earth in the world. Rare earth is used for the production of computer chips without which all the computers, mobile phones, motor vehicles, machines etc cannot operate.
My main purpose of writing this article is to show that Malaysia was one of the largest exporters of rare earth in the world before.
In 1965 a few friends and I founded Beh Minerals Sdn Bhd. Main office is in Lahat, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. The company extracted rare earth from the tin tailings. Malaysia was the largest tin producer in the world before 1965. As a result, we could recover large quantity of rare earth from the tin tailings. We were one of the largest exporters of rare earth in the world.
Japan was our biggest market. The Japanese used our product for the manufacturing of colour television tubes. Before that time all the television was black and white.
Mitsubishi Chemical company joint ventured with us to process our rare earth, called “itrymoxide” in Pusing, Ipoh for export. We used sulphuric acid to take out the oxide. In the process, the discharge was found to cause cancer.
Eventually, the Government shut down our factory and we lost more than Rm 10 million which was a lot of money at that time. We sued Mitsubishi for reimbursement of our losses. We claimed that Mitsubishi, a world renown chemical company mislead us. The legal battle dragged on for a few years.
Eventually we settled out of court. Mitsubishi agreed to compensate us Rm 10 million on condition that this money was solely for doing charity. That was how we founded Yayasan Teratai with a charity old folks’ home at 8, Jalan Foo Choong Nyit, 30450, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.