Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Lynas’ attempt to gag free speech in Malaysia

Tuesday 19 June 2012

 Lynas’ attempt to gag free speech in Malaysia
NGOs in Australia are opposed to Australian rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation, gagging free speech in Malaysia. Today, The Malaysian High Court has scheduled to hear the injunction application filed by Lynas against residents group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL).

Thousands of Malaysians have come out in the past 15 months to protest against its rare earth processing plant in Malaysia. Lynas wants to export 33,000 tonnes per annum of rare earth concentrates from its mine through the port of Fremantle in Western Australia to the port of Kuantan in Malaysia to its hazardous, energy intensive and highly controversial processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

Marcus Atkinson, campaigner, Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia said, “There is no way Lynas would be able to gag organisations in Australia from exercising their constitutional rights as citizens groups to highlight the risks and hazards of a particular development.”

Lynas has been very aggressive in pushing ahead with its controversial project against a growing tide of opposition. If the LAMP goes ahead it will leave behind millions of tonnes of hazardous radioactive waste in an area surrounded by peat mangrove swamp only 3.5 km from the South China Sea, a major fishing and recreational hot spot. It is totally un-Australian for Lynas to try to shut up Malaysian communities who are concerned about inheriting a polluted and radioactive future, losing their livelihood and clean living environment along the way!”

Lynas had earlier failed to seek an exparte court injunction to gag SMSL and Malaysian NGOs. It is now trying again through an inter-parte court injunction. Today, the court will decide on the injunction sought by Lynas.

Lee Tan, a Kuantan born Australian resident formerly the Asia-Pacific Campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation said,"Lynas' defamation suit against its critics in Malaysia goes to show the kind of company it really is - to take advantage of the less stringent environmental policy of Malaysia, to cash in on the overly generous 12-year tax holiday instead of paying taxes including the carbon tax in Australia, to ignore community's opposition to its rare earth plant and to push ahead with its plant despite not having a safe permanent solution for its millions of tonnes of hazardous radioactive waste"

Dr. Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia said, “Local communities have every right to voice their concerns against any development that poses the threats of radiation. Lynas should be adhering to Precautionary Principle and Free Prior and Informed Consent. If these two principles are not taken seriously then Lynas does not have the social licence to operate in Malaysia.”

Whilst Rare Earth’s are required for a variety of “green” technologies including wind turbines and hybrid/electric cars both the extraction and processing of rare earths has significant environmental risks in its potential for the spread of radioactive material, heavy metals and toxic chemicals, as well as the acidification of watersheds.

Ms Tan said, "Lynas has no idea that it needs a social licence to operate. Its attempt to promote its products as green and sustainable will never match ethical consumer demand for a sound life cycle footprints for green products."
SMSL and several bus-loads of supporters from different parts of Malaysia will converge outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court by 9.30am today to stage a peaceful action.


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