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Lynas sues FMT, two others for ‘defamation’

April 20, 2012

The Australian-based claims that an article published in FMT contained 'false and misleading' statements.

PETALING JAYA: Lynas Corporation Limited, which is seeking to undertake the controversial rare earth plant in Kuantan, Pahang, today commenced defamation proceedings at the Kuala Lumpur High Court against Free Malaysia Today.

In a statement, the Australian-based firm said the defamation proceedings related to “false and misleading statements” made in a recent online article published by FMT.

In addition, Lynas Corp also commenced defamation proceedings in the same forum against a group known as “Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas”, its directors and some of its committee members.

“These proceedings relate to false and misleading statements made in a recent open letter which was published on the Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas blogsite.

“Lynas has and will engage legal representation to take action against people who publish defamatory statements or misinformation about Lynas or its operations.

“Lynas has engaged in a large public consultation programme, communicating directly with more than 10,000 local residents, community leaders, villagers and the families since July 2011.

“We are now engaging in a conversation with the Malaysian community that will continue for the life of the plant, but we are concerned that these defamatory statements will instill misplaced fear and anxiety in the general public about our safe operations.

“Lynas’ operations will be safe and will comply with the environmental, health and safety standards stipulated by the laws of Malaysia and audited by the International Atomic Energy Agency. These laws reflect or exceed international standards, ” said Lynas executive chairman Nicholas Curtis in the statement.

The Australian mining company yesterday, opened its 100 hectare plant in Kuantan to the media in an effort to prove that it had nothing to hide about the plant.

The Xin Hua news agency reported that the company was ready to fire up the controversial rare earth refinery in two weeks and that a delay in getting operations started would bring serious losses to its clients and suppliers.

The company was granted a manufacturing license two years ago with hopes that the rare earth processing plant would spur economic growth and provide jobs.

Operations at the plant were slated to begin last year but put on hold following protests from activists and residents living near the plant for fear over possible radioactive waste generated by the plant.

The government said it would grant Lynas a temporary operating license after it consults experts and receives Lynas’ blueprints for a permanent disposal facility and a deposit of US$50 million financial guarantee.

“I would say that this delay has impacted Lynas very seriously because the whole purpose of the temporary operating license… is for us to run the plant and measure the actual reading,” Lynas Malaysia’s managing director, Mashal Ahmad was quoted as saying by Xin Hua.

“We don’t have an opportunity to prove what we have submitted, we need the temporary operating license as fast as possible to prove that the plant is safe,” he added.

The Anti-Lynas group fear that they would share the same fate as a rare earth plant built in Bukit Merah, Perak in 1979.

The Bukit Merah refinery operated by Mitsubishi Chemicals and Asian Rare Earth was closed in 1992 as it was blamed for birth defects and a surge in cases of leukemia.

To date, the country is still grappling to contain the radioactive waste that the plant generated.

Mashal said the residue generated by the plant releases radiation level 500 times lower than the Malaysian law permitted and that the waste containers are rigid and impermeable, placed four meters above the water table.

He said Lynas chose to set up the plant in Malaysia because of its straightforward rules, cheaper water and skilled labours, not the lax environmental laws as alleged by opponents.


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