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NGO cautions Lynas over lawsuit

 | April 23, 2012

Suit by a large corporation against a small NGO would not cast it in a favourable light, says Save Malaysia Stop Lynas.

PETALING JAYA: Anti-Lynas NGO, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL), has cautioned Lynas Corporation Ltd to “think clearly” before suing it as a lawsuit from a large corporation against a small NGO wouldn’t cast Lynas in a favourable light.

The Australian mining giant last Friday filed a lawsuit against SMSL and Free Malaysia Today for defamation over the publication of “false and misleading” statements in an open letter and an article respectively.

But SMSL chairperson, Tan Bun Teet, today warned Lynas that the lawsuit would only indicate its poor corporate culture among its peers in international circles.

“It’s a big corporation suing a small NGO that is speaking out for the people,” Tan told FMT. “And we’re not maliciously smearing Lynas’ name.”

“We’re merely trying to alert the Malaysian public to the environmental concerns that the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) has raised.”

SMSL, he reiterated, would not be cowed by the lawsuit and would continue pressing forward in its fight to stop the RM2.5 billion rare earth plant from operating in Gebeng.

Kuantan MP and one of Lynas’ most vocal detractors, Fuziah Salleh, meanwhile added in media statement that while anti-Lynas groups would not challenge Lynas’ right to sue, they would defend their rights to live in a safer environment.

Calling it a matter of “life and death”, Fuziah said that allowing the plant to continue operations would be tantamount to exposing themselves to the risk of radioactive waste contamination.

“No industry is one hundred percent efficient and accidents caused by human errors, do happen, whether you like it or not,” she said. “As a foreign investor, Lynas should be concerned about the environment which it seeks to operate in.”

“(Lynas executive chairman) Nicholas Curtis should realise that, in his own country, the best practice for a rare earth refinery is to be located in a sparsely populated area where the water table is deep below the ground level.”

Fuziah also took prime minster, Najib Tun Razak, to task for his lack of concern over the issue despite the plant being located about 50 kilometres away from his constituency of Pekan.

She alluded to Najib’s recent dodging of queries over human right NGO, Suaram’s, case in France involving alleged kickbacks in the Scorpene submarine deal as his “style of handling issues”.

Najib had refused to comment when asked yesterday whether he would testify in the French court despite Suaram submitting his name as a witness.

“Whenever Najib is involved in something unpopular, he prefers to remain silent. Malaysians will interpret this as his way of condoning the Lynas project,” Fuziah said.

“Himpunan Hijau 3.0 this Saturday will send a clear message to Curtis, Najib and the entire Barisan Nasional government that we do not welcome any industry that could potentially risk the lives of Malaysians.”


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