Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas campaigners gathered at the Kuantan High Court yesterday to witness the official withdrawal of a defamation suit brought by the rare earth refinery firm.
SMSL campaigners, supporters and local residents gathered at the Kuantan High Court yesterday to witness the official withdrawal of the defamation suit brought by Australia’s Lynas Corporation in a failed attempt to gag them.
Local residents in their campaigning T-shirts bearing the Stop Lynas messages held placards to show their determination to continue with the campaign to stop Lynas’ controversial rare earth refinery plant.
Tan Bun Teet, a Kuantan resident and the spokesperson for SMSL, said “We knew that this day would come because we were only acting as responsible citizens exercising our constitutional rights to engage with our Prime Minister when we wrote the open letter.
“Our views were backed by well founded research and data which have been verified by experts. Lynas simply took advantage of Malaysia’s weak civil liberty law by using this defamation legal action to try to silence us. Well, it has backfired.”
The Lynas rare earth refinery plant is located in a peat mangrove area only 3km from the South China Sea near coastal fishing communities and housing estates.
Rare earth processing has been linked to catastrophic environmental problems. With Malaysia’s outdated and weak environmental law which is seldom enforced, locals fear the Lynas plant will become a risky and hazardous operation that will leave a lasting toxic legacy for Malaysia.
Lynas will be producing massive amounts of different toxic waste, some of which contains thorium and uranium which are radioactive.
“Lynas should have adhered to a higher standard of decency in the first place. How could it build a world-scale refinery plant without ever consulting with local communities in the absence of a full environmental impact assessment or a social impact assessment which it would have to do if the plant is to be located in Australia?” asked Ismail Abu Bakar, a long-term local resident and another spokesperson for SMSL.
“To add salt to the wound, the government gave Lynas a 12-year tax holiday when we, the rakyat who pay taxes, would end up living with the risk and hazards forever and bearing any costs of clean up! Of course we will not be accepting such a hazardous project and this raw deal lying down!” he added.
SMSL is a people’s organisation consisting of a team of highly committed community volunteers backed by strong public support from all over Malaysia and concerned citizens internationally.
SMSL has sought expert advice on the Lynas project. It has had investigative research carried out into Lynas Corporation and its rare earth project by highly qualified independent professionals both in Malaysia and overseas.
Respected and reputable scientific and engineering consultancy in Germany, the Oeko Institute concluded in its analysis of the Lynas’ waste and pollution management plan that the Lynas plant is not a state-of-the-art operation and it has many serious deficiencies that risk polluting the air, the water and exposing the public to unsafe radioactive exposure in the long run.
“Our position on the Lynas plant is clear. We will fight until the end to STOP Lynas in the interest of the public and Malaysia’s future. SMSL will continue with the judicial review legal cases and its international campaign.
“It is a matter of either we fight the fight or risk getting exposed to Lynas’ hazards and leaving a lasting radioactive and toxic legacy to future generations!” concluded Tan.