|Wednesday, 2 May 2012|
LYNAS Corporation is following through on its threats of defamation proceedings against Malaysian protesters but the group at the centre of the controversy has vowed to fight on, labelling the case as a “matter of life and death”.
|Opponents of Lynas' Malaysian plant|
In its quarterly report, Lynas said it had started defamation proceedings in Malaysia against the protest group Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas (SMSL) and various Malaysian media outlets.
SMSL has been a vocal opponent of Lynas’ advanced materials plant in Kuantan, Malaysia, citing environmental concerns.
Last week Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said Malaysians respected Lynas’ right to sue but said citizens also had the right to defend their rights to live in a safe environment and said it was a matter of life and death.
“If we continue to allow the plant to continue on with its operations, there is no guarantee that it will be safe from contamination of the radioactive waste,” she said.
“No industry is one hundred per cent efficient and accidents caused by human errors do happen, whether you like it or not.
“Even the most advanced plants have been known to contaminate the environment.”
She went on to criticise Lynas executive chairman Nick Curtis for not having more regard for the citizens and environment.
“Nick 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,” she said.
“Why, in our homeland, should he think that he can get away by setting up the plant within the district of Gebeng, with a resident population of at least 10,000 within the 5km radius of the plant?”
Fuziah also slammed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over his handling of the issue.
“Whenever he is involved in something unpopular, he prefers to remain silent,” she said.
“Malaysians will interpret this as his way of condoning the Lynas project.”
Lynas first threatened legal action last month, sending SMSL a 15-page letter demanding the removal of offending statements, as well as a public apology, the promise not to publish any further comments and the payment of damages to Lynas for “injury to its reputation” and all legal costs within seven days.
A statement released by SMSL and 45 Malaysian non-government organisations vowed that the groups would not bow down to “intimidation tactics”.
“Not only that we concerned citizens of Malaysia and representatives of the various NGOs will not back down on our stance upon receiving Lynas’ legal threat, it has actually helped to strengthen our resolve to fight harder to protect Malaysia’s interests and basic human rights against the aggression of Lynas Corporation,” the statement said.
The statement also accused Lynas of not respecting free speech and taking advantage of Malaysia’s weak defamation laws.
“Let us remind you about the famous story of ‘David and the Goliath’ where the giant goliath was ultimately defeated by the true and noble David, who used his wits and courage to withstand the onslaught of the giant Goliath who thought he was so powerful and strong,” the groups said.
“The Malaysian people will not cow to intimidation tactics by big bully corporations especially those that have a lot to hide, and continue to peddle half-truths and lies to deceive the people. Take your poison away from this land and do not pollute our earth, sky and seas.”
Curtis recently said the group was running a “baseless scare campaign”.
“This misinformation campaign has frustrated Lynas, but our resolve and belief in the safety of the LAMP and the benefits that will flow once the LAMP can operate have not been diminished,” he said.
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