Despite legal threat, anti-Lynas groups say not cowed
KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Opponents of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) said today they would not be cowed by the threat of a lawsuit and would continue efforts to shutter the Australian miner’s rare earths refinery in Pahang.
A letter of demand was issued to four Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) members and 45 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that had signed a March 22 open letter to the prime minister to halt operations of the Lynas plant.
The March 31 letter from Lynas Corp’s lawyers include demands for “removal of offending statements” and publishing an apology online and in a newspaper or be taken to court for defamation.
“The letter of demand has been replied last week by lawyers representing all the NGOs and individuals mentioned in the letter,” said SMSL chairman Tan Bun Teet.
“We’ve done extensive research and we have reliable information from people working in the plant itself to arrive at the statement made on March 22,” he told reporters today.
He added that “it’s the first time we are receiving a letter of demand from Lynas after making so many statements, we do not see why only now Lynas is doing this.”
“We will not bow to intimidation tactics of Lynas,” said Tan Jo Hann, executive director of Komas, on behalf of the anti-Lynas NGOs.
Asked about the planned protests by another anti-Lynas group at mosques this Friday, Jo Hann said “we are supporting it and will stand in solidarity”.
A group of 22 non-governmental organisations called Solidariti SeMalaysia Himpunan Hijau plan to stage a nationwide protest at mosques nationwide after Friday prayers on April 13.
Their purpose is to break racial barriers and add force to their ongoing efforts to stop Lynas’ rare earths refinery construction in Gebeng, north of Kuantan.
In January, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) approved a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the plant but has said it will not issue the permit until the Australian miner complies with extra safety conditions imposed.
The AELB also said last week it will not issue a TOL to Lynas Corp until an outstanding appeal to the science, technology and innovation minister has been completed.
It is scheduled to be heard at the Malaysian Nuclear Agency in Bangi on April 17, where Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili will hear submissions from SMSL’s Bun Teet and five others.
Last Tuesday, Lynas Corp’s Malaysian subsidiary said the plant would be ready to fire up operations in three weeks’ time.
Critics allege that Lynas Corp has failed to give enough assurances on how it will handle the low-level radioactive waste that will be produced at the plant.
But the Australian miner maintains that waste from the Gebeng plant will not be hazardous and can be easily recycled for commercial applications.
Parliament approved a select committee on Lynas on March 20 amid opposition furore over its terms of reference and suspicion that the nine-man panel will be used to “whitewash” the issue.