3:14PM Jul 26, 2012
Rare earth company Lynas Corporation today failed in its bid to gag NGO Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) from making public statements against it.
In his judgement Justice Louis O Hara said that the evidence presented before him was “insufficient” to grant the injunction.”At this preliminary stage…it is not required for the court to give a definitive decision (on whether there is defamation) without hearing all the evidence.
“With defence of qualified privilege and fair comment having been pleaded, I’m not satisfied that the affidavit evidence before me is sufficient,” the Kuala Lumpur High Court judge said.The application was dismissed with cost of RM5,000.
Justice O’ Hara found that public interest is a “relevant and weighty” defence as the public has the right to know.
Speaking to reporters later, SMSL’s lawyer Bastian Vendargon said that the decision can be seen as a victory for freedom of speech.”When he says he is upholding all cases before this, he is careful not to interfere with freedom of speech,” he said.
Commenting on the decision, SMSL leader Tan Bun Teet (left) who was at the court house with more than 100 supporters from Kuantan, Pahang, said it was a “small victory” for their struggle.
“All this while we were speaking out of public interest and not for ulterior motives or personal gain,” he said.
“We hope that in the suit proper (the defamation trial), the whole world would know whatever comments on Lynas and statements on its effects on the community nearby, are true.”
He added that SMSL will now launch a nationwide tour to educate the public on the alleged dangers of the Lynas Advance Material Plant for rare earth refining, at Gebeng, near Kuantan.Bun Teet also revealed that he and two other activists, in their capacity as Kuantan residents, are planning to file a judicial review at the Kuantan High Court against the award of the temporary operating licence for the rare earth plant by the Atomic Energy Licencing Board.
Vice chairperson Ismail Abu Bakar and two other Kuantan residents will also file a judicial review at the Kuantan High Court against the Minister of Science and Technology Maxmimus Ongkili, on his decision to reject their appeal on the Lynas TOL.
Also present was NGO Komas representative Tan Jo Hann who said that today SMSL had “wounded a big giant” which it will finally kill.On April 19, Lynas Corporation of Sydney, Australia, and Lynas Malaysia filed the suit against SMSL Sdn Bhd and its two directors, Tan Bun Teet and Lim Sow Teow, and three volunteers Hang Chong Leung, Lee Chow Fong and Ismail Abu Bakar, over an allegedly defamatory article published on its blog, on Mar 22.
The defamation case is set for case management on Aug 18.
Speaking on the case, Bastian said that he has expressed intention to the judge that he will apply for the case to be transferred to the Kuantan High Court for the convenience of the parties, most of whom are based in Pahang.
He will file the application, as well as another application for the court to compel Lynas to provide the defendants with sought documents, next week.