High Court throws out Lynas bid to gag activists

Lynas had sought to bar the group from issuing further statements on its Gebeng refinery. — File picLynas had sought to bar the group from issuing further statements on its Gebeng refinery. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — The High Court here today rejected Australian miner Lynas Corp’s application for an injunction against pressure group Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas (SMSL) making allegedly defamatory statements on the company’s controversial rare earth plant near Kuantan, Pahang.

Judge John Louis O’Hara today dismissed the ex parte application, and ordered an inter-parte hearing for May 9.

“The judge has agreed to an inter-parte injunction where we are required to put in affidavits and explanations,” SMSL lawyer Datuk Bastian Pius Vendargon told reporters today after a meeting in chambers.

“Only after May 9, the new date will be set for hearing of injunction,” he added.

In its claim filed on April 19, Lynas Corp had accused SMSL Sdn Bhd, its chairman Tan Bun Teet and director Lim Sow Teow of defamation following the publication of “false, damaging and defamatory” statements on the latter’s anti-Lynas website.

However, Vendargon said that SMSL lawyers had only found out about the ex parte hearing on Monday as no documents were served on his clients.

“This is also a special case in which it concerns and involves the public, and my clients are acting not only for themselves but on behalf of the public, who fear for their life and property in this matter,” he said.

“As far as we’re concerned, the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, so today we asked the court that we should also be heard first before it decides to bar us from speaking. This concerns our right to be heard,” he added.

Lynas had also filed a suit against online news portal Free Malaysia Today, citing the article “Lynas Must Go” dated March 6 also contained false and defamatory statements. No legal representatives from the news portal were present today.

The company is seeking general damages, exemplary and aggravated damages, costs and interests as well as other relief deemed fit by the court.


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