(File pix) Malaysia Nuclear Power Cooperation (MNPC) chief executive officer Dr Mohd Zamzam Jaafar said these factors include changing public perception, improving existing laws, and signing additional treaties pertaining nuclear energy. Pix by Fariz Iswadi Ismail

KUALA LUMPUR: Before Malaysia can consider embarking on developing nuclear energy, it has to consider many factors, including improving existing laws, as well as engaging the public.

Malaysia Nuclear Power Cooperation (MNPC) chief executive officer Dr Mohd Zamzam Jaafar said these factors include changing public perception, improving existing laws, and signing additional treaties pertaining nuclear energy.

"Although nuclear energy may be considered necessity in the long run, the public are concerns over the matter.

"Therefore, we must first engage the public and get their feedback before any decision could be made on the use of nuclear energy.

"We also need to improve our existing Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 as well to be part of treaties pertaining nuclear energy," he said when met after the Public Information on Nuclear Energy seminar today.

In March, the final report of the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Mission phase one, initiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, concluded that Malaysia is thoroughly prepared for nuclear power.

Zamzam said there is a need for Malaysia to develop nuclear energy in order to meet future demand as well as for energy security.

"Currently, we rely heavily on coal and natural gas for power generation. As for energy security, it is because we do not know what will happen in the future," he said.

Under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), a Nuclear Power Development Steering Committee was established in June 2009, to plan and coordinate preparatory efforts towards deploying nuclear energy for electricity generation, which stated 2021 as the target year.

However, in November last year, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the country's nuclear programme will only kick off after 2030.

The decision was due to the present development and sentiment on nuclear power, specifically the tsunami effect on Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011.

Meanwhile, on the seminar, it was co-organised by MNPC and Japan Atomic Industrial Forum and International Cooperation Centre.

Present were Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang, MNPC Nuclear Programme Development director Jamal Khaer Ibrahim and Japan Nuclear Energy Planning Division Agency for Natural Resources and Energy deputy director Ryota Ochi.

On the seminar, Zaini in his speech said it was to facilitate better understanding and provide a platform for information exchange on nuclear energy in Malaysia and Japan.

He said, under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the government is continuing to invest in the security of energy supply to drive the nation's growth.

"One of the initiatives is to explore nuclear energy as future energy option.

"Thus, this seminar is essential in enabling the exchange of information and experiences between both countries especially on the subject of radiation - setting a strong basis to ensure peaceful uses of nuclear technology," he said.

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