High Court denies Lynas’ bid to gag SMSL

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Save Malaysia Stop Lynas is pleased that the Kuala Lumpur High Court has rejected Lynas’ second attempt to get a court injunction to gag SMSL yesterday.

Over a hundred concerned people – Kuantan residents, supporters from other states and representatives of civil society organisations – congregated peacefully in the vicinity of the High Court with placards and a banner in a show of solidarity to express their outrage at Lynas’ defamation action.

“It is heartening and encouraging seeing justice delivered at this juncture. We are relieved that our freedom of speech to voice our concerns with our own government in the interest of the public and the country is upheld through yesterday’s High Court decision,” said Tan Bun Teet, an SMSL spokesperson, Kuantan resident and defendant named in the defamation suit.

“Here we are dealing with a world-scale rare earth plant at least 10 times bigger than the one in Bukit Merah with hundreds more times hazardous waste. It has been built without any consultation with the public, with lax environmental safeguards and a speedy approval processes. What’s more, it is located in a swampy area so close to the sea and the population. We, as informed citizens, cannot simply sit back and do nothing,” continued Tan

The High Court awarded court costs of RM5000 to SMSL against Lynas and the court will resume on 14 August to work out details of future trials and hearings.

The fair judgment delivered by Judge John Louis O’Hara is a much welcome gesture of hope for SMSL and concerned Malaysians who have fought hard to stop the Lynas rare earth project since it became widely known for the first time last March through a New York Times article.

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Haji Ismail Abu Bakar, another defendant named in the Lynas suit and a Kuantan resident remarked, “Many rakyat (citizens) who will be directly and most immediately put at risk once the Lynas plant starts to operate are at no liberty to speak out or to voice their concerns. We breathe a sigh of small relief for now but we have a long way to go to keep our country safe and clean from toxic pollution.”

Last Thursday, 19 July, the court heard arguments from both Lynas and SMSL counsel. SMSL was represented by senior counsel Bastian, who argued that SMSL acted in the interest of the public in issuing the open letter to the Prime Minister which Lynas alleged is defamatory.

“SMSL will brief its various expert witnesses in Malaysia and overseas in preparation for the trial. SMSL aims to use the trial to reveal information in its possession. We have independent opinions and assessments from various highly qualified professionals. We would like to inform the court and the public of the risks and hazards of the Lynas project to our communities, our livelihoods and the local economy as well as Malaysia as a whole,” explained Tan.

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