Stop Lynas Rare Earth Refinery Campaign in Kuantan

 

Fuziah Salleh has spearheaded the “Stop Lynas Rare Earth Refinery” campaign in Kuantan after being elected as the Member of Parliament for Kuantan in 2008. Fuziah has been raising her concern over the risks of having Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) near Kuantan in the Parliament of Malaysia since 18 November 2008.[3]

“Concerned Citizen of Kuantan” was a civil society group initiated by Fuziah in December 2008 to discuss actions should be taken by the Kuantan community against the hazardous Lynas rare earth refinery project. Committee of “Concerned Citizen of Kuantan” was formed after a meeting held by Fuziah to discuss the LAMP issues with about 20 residents and professionals from different ethnic groups and NGOs near Kuantan.[4] The awareness campaign about the hazardous LAMP organized between 2008 and 2010 was taxing with limited organizations and individuals willing to render assistance. Also, only the local Chinese media picked up the alleged LAMP issues, while both the English and Malay media didn’t. In 2009, Fuziah’s team managed to get media coverage of the LAMP problems in Kuantan via the Malaysian television channels, both the NTV7’s [5][6][7] and the TV2’s[8] Mandarinprograms.After fighting a solo battle for more than two years to stop the Lynas plant from being built in Malaysia. In early March 2011, public awareness has been heightened by the articles on the Lynas project published in the New York Times.[9][10][11]. At the same time, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has ramped up fear in the Malaysian people about the risks of radioactive exposure. Since then, the “Stop Lynas Rare Earth Refinery” campaign has started to gain momentum.

The anti-Lynas group led by Fuziah Salleh had gradually evolved into a bigger civil society group, i.e. “Save Malaysia Stop Lynas” (SMSL). SMSL was initiated and loosely formed by Fuziah and her PKR team in March 2011, after a signature drive launched and public talk on the urgent need to cease the Lynas plant from commencing operations in Malaysia.[12] Fuziah and team then passed their contacts to the SMSL committee with verbal agreement that all “Stop Lynas Rare Earth Refinery” NGOs, activists, professionals and experts to work together, and under the umbrella of Kuantan MP YB Fuziah Salleh. Along the path of her struggle against LAMP, various anti-Lynas groups, NGOs and NGIs have been mushrooming.

During the early days of the “Stop Lynas” campaign, Fuziah led the local residents and environmentalists in petition collecting, PicBadging, leafleting, briefing and a civil protest movement[13][14][15][16][17]. The online portals and social media have played a significant role in keeping more people informed about the hazardous LAMP project in Gebeng, Kuantan.

On 2 May 2011, Fuziah presented the Lynas rare earth refinery case study that claimed far-reaching consequences on Kuantan communities’ civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the environment at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In May 2011, the LAMP issues have started to attract more attentions from both the local and the international media – especially both Al-Jazeera 101 East[18] and Australian Network Newsline[19] broadcasted programs observing the present situation of Kuantan’s people over the Lynas project. This followed by the local television channel NTV7 Siasat Mandarin,[20][21] which aired the updated LAMP issues on 9 June 2011 with Malay subtitle.

In July 2011, Fuziah also stepped up the campaign in Europe attempting to stop the Lynas rare earth refinery plant from operating in Malaysia, after completed her dialogue on ASEAN Women Leaders with European partners.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Review On Lynas

The government of Malaysia has bowed to public pressure in April 2011[22] and brought in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct a month-long review by a team of nine international experts on the construction of the Lynas rare earth refinery plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.[23]

During the visit of the IAEA-led team to Kuantan, its meeting with stakeholders ended in chaos. Several anti-Lynas activists and journalists were injured and threatened, and 3 UMNO assemblymen from the BN ruling coalition even provoked PKR Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh when she arrived on the scene of the IAEA review panel.[24][25]

The review led by the IAEA panel concluded on 28 June 2011, and it claimed “was not able to identify any non-compliance with international radiation safety standards” by putting forward eleven recommendations for Lynas to meet before beginning operations, which have been adopted by the BN ruling coalition.[26]

Despite the claimed hazards, the government of Malaysia is eager for investment by Lynas, even offering a 12-year tax holiday. Fuziah Salleh, local residents,[27] environmentalists and professional bodies such as Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Malaysian Bar Council have questioned the credibility of the IAEA review.[28][29] They have called for the LAMP to be scrapped[30][31] by pointing out the IAEA review panel didn’t include the medical experts and the IAEA report doesn’t assure LAMP will be safe. Also, it is claimed that neither the long-term waste management nor the possible contamination of surface water and atmosphere by radioactive waste material were addressed in the radiological impact assessment (RIA) report. These worries have been further spurred by the New York Times article dated 29 June 2011,[32] reporting the LAMP may be needed redesign work, with memos, e-mail messages and photos from Lynas and its contractors provided to the journalist by the engineers who worked at the LAMP.

Regardless of the criticisms, Putrajaya dismissed offhand this New York Times report without probing, and such flippant attitude of the Najib administration was slammed by Fuziah.[33]

 

Anti-Lynas Rally

  • 30 March 2011 – A number of 100 residents nearby made the four-hour bus trip to Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, to protest against the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Kuantan. The residents’ representatives later held a press conference at the Parliament lobby, accompanied by Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh to express their disagreement to the LAMP project and to promote a petition calling for a complete stop to the LAMP’s construction.[34][35]

Memorandum Submission to Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur 20 May 2011.jpgMarch to Aussie High Commission with Fuziah Salleh.jpg

  • 20 May 2011 – Around 200 people made up of Fuziah Salleh and her anti-Lynas group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL), Kuantan residents, NGO representatives and members of PKR and PAS attended the “Stop Lynas Solidarity Walk” from KLCC to the Australian high commission in Kuala Lumpur. Fuziah and the “selected” representatives submitted memorandum to the Australian high commissioner to protest against having a rare earth refinery plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

  • 26 February 2012 – 15,000 people were gathering at the Kuantan Municipal Council field for “Himpunan Hijau 2.0″ (Anti-Lynas Green Rally 2.0). “Himpuanan Hijau 2.0″ is a new group to oppose the construction of Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan, in which they fear will pose risks.[36]
  • 13 April 2012 – a new Anti-Lynas coalition, the Solidariti Hijau SeMalaysia – Stop Lynas (SHS-SL), comprising of 23 NGOs, held an Anti-Lynas demonstrations nationwide outside “selected” mosques after Friday prayers. The SHS-SL rally was to protest against the newly-established parliamentary select committee (PSC) on the Lynas refinery by the Malaysian government, and to “advise” the BN ruling coalition that the Lynas issue is of national interest regardless of race or religion. [37][38]

photo

  • 28 April 2012 – “Himpunan Hijau 3.0″ (Anti-Lynas Green Rally 3.0) supporters started marching from KLCC to join the “Berish 3.0″ rally at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.[39] The “Himpunan Hijau 3.0″ rally was held together with the “Bersih 3.0″ rally on 28 April 2012. “Berish 2.0″ is a civil society group pushing for an overhaul to the Malaysian electoral system. Around 300,000 Malaysians had joined the “Berish 3.0″ and “Himpunan Hijau 3.0″ rally took the form of a sit-in (“duduk bantah” in Bahasa Malaysia), which taking place across Malaysia and spreading to over 80 cities across 35 countries where there were Malaysians.[40][41]
  • 23 June 2012 – About 300 anti-Lynas protesters attended the 24-hour Occupy Balok-Gebeng rally in Kuantan by planting banners at Balok beach. The organizer also placed around 15 coffins under a gigantic banner of Lynas, to be set on fire at the “Flame of Anger Rising- Burn Lynas into Ashes” session.[42]
  • 24 June 2012 – About 1,000 protesters converged at the entrance of the Gebeng Industrial Zone to protest against the Lynas rare earth refinery.[43]
  • 14 July 2012 – Some 26,000 people nationwide had participated in the mock voting campaign, “National Day of Stop Lynas Action” organized by SMSL in 19 cities and towns across Malaysia simultaneously. A total of 20,194 people voted against Lynas, while only 6 were in favour.[44]
  • 25 November 2012 – Started with about 70 participants on Nov 13 in the 13-day 300km march from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur to pressure the government to disallow the Lynas rare earth plant from operating and to highlight other environmental issues, by the time the marchers reached Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, an estimated 20,000 people had joined in the green march against Lynas.[45]

Kuantan Residents To Launch Legal Action Against Lynas

  • 24 September 2011 – The Stop Lynas Coalition (SLC) comprised around 20 NGOs and groups was set up by Fuziah Salleh and team to join efforts in stopping Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) operations.[46]
  • 17 February 2012 – The SLC and Kuantan residents filed an application for a judicial review of the temporary operating license (TOL) given to Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd by Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s (AELB).
  • 28 February 2012 – The SLC’s and Kuantan residents’ case against Lynas was listed for mention in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
  • 30 March 2012 – Submissions for leave by the SLC and residents nearby for a judicial review of the Lynas operations in Gebeng, Kuantan. Justice Rohana Yusuf in chambers ordered AELB to reveal details of the TOL granted to Lynas by 4 April 2012.
  • 4 April 2012 – The Kuala Lumpur High Court heard submissions from the Malaysian government and Lynas pertaining to preliminary objections of the SLC and residents in Gebeng, Kuantan.
  • 12 April 2012 – Court case brought by the SLC and Kuantan residents was heard in “open court”. The Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected the leave application for a judicial review against the AELB’s approval of a TOL to Lynas Corporation to operate a rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan. Justice Rohana Yusuf declared the application filed by the Kuantan residents as “premature” on the following unusual circumstances:- (1) parliamentary select committee (PSC) was formed by the Malaysian government on 23 March to investigate the safety standards of the LAMP. (2) AELB had suspended the plant’s TOL until all the disputes are settled. (3) The appeal by another anti-Lynas group, “Save Malaysia Stop Lynas” (SMSL) to the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) Minister, Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, to cancel the plant’s licence may lead to embarrassment if the findings of MOSTI Minister differ from that of the court’s.
  • 9 May 2012 – The lawyer of the SLC and Kuantan residents applied seeking a fresh hearing by The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya.[47]
  • 10 September 2012 – The Court of Appeal dismissed SLC’s and residents’ appeal of a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on 12 April, where an application for judicial review of the AELB’s decision to grant a TOL to Lynas for its rare earth plant in Kuantan was previously rejected.[48]. The lawyers of SLC indicated that they will appeal to the Federal Court.[49]

Science, Technology And Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) On Lynas

  • 17 April 2012 – Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili held a hearing on the appeal made by the Anti-Lynas group “Save Malaysia Stop Lynas” (SMSL) representatives, who claimed to be affected by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s (AELB) 30 Jan decision to award a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP)in Gebeng, Kuantan.
  • 13 June 2012 – MOSTI had rejected the Kuantan residents’ and SMSL’s appeal to the ministry to suspend the TOL issued to the LAMP by the AELB. Maximus Ongkili said the government had told Lynas to submit a plan to immobilize radioactive elements in its waste, and to come up with an emergency response plan on dust control. However, Fuziah Salleh and the anti-Lynas activists unmoved by the added two extra conditions which to be met by Lynas.[50][51]
  • The Kuantan residents and SMSL said they would file a judicial review at the Kuantan High Court against the MOSTI Minister, on his decision to reject their appeal on the Lynas TOL.[52]

 

Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) On Lynas

  • 17 March 2012. The BN ruling coalition (the federal government) announced it will set up a PSC to investigate and make recommendations on the Lynas issue.[53]
  • Both the ruling and opposition coalitions were invited to make up the PSC, and all interested parties (including the Anti-Lynas NGOs) were encouraged to attend.[54]
  • Fuziah, the PR opposition coalition and Anti-Lynas NGOs refused to participate by claiming PSC is merely a public relations attempt by the BN government to whitewash the Lynas project.[55][56]

 

Lynas To Initiate Legal Action Against Malaysian Civilians

  • 1 May 2012 – Rare earths miner Lynas sued a Malaysian community group “Save Malaysia Stop Lynas” (SMSL) and a Malaysian online portal because of an open letter published.
  • 26 July 2012 – the Malaysian High Court decided against granting Lynas the defamation injunction. Lynas failed in its bid to gag Malaysian civilians from making public statements against it. The High Court awarded court costs of RM5,000 to SMSL against Lynas.[57]
  • 14 August 2012 – The Malaysian High Court fixed 26 September 2012 to hear an application by SMSL to transfer the Lynas defamation suit against it to the Kuantan High Court. Judge John Louis O’Hara would also hear another application by SMSL on the same day which seeks to obtain documents from Lynas which the Australian rare earth miner is declining to release.[58]
SMSL counter sues Lynas
  • 28 August 2012 – Kuantan High Court judge Justice Mariana Yahya has granted leave to SMSL to challenge the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB)’s decision to grant a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan. Kuantan High Court has also allowed a judicial review of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili’s rejection of the SMSL’s appeal against the TOL in June.[59]
  • 5 September 2012 – AELB has given the TOL for Lynas to operate its rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan, despite the Kuantan High Court’s decision on 28 August.[60]
  • 25 September 2012 – The Kuantan High Court judge Mariana Yahya granted to SMSL the interim stay against Lynas Advanced Materials Plant’s (LAMP’s) TOL for 10 days until 4 October, so as to hear Lynas’ application to intervene in the two judicial review cases against the TOL.[61]
  • 26 September 2012 – In ruling against Lynas Corporation, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Louis O’Hara ruled to transfer Lynas’ defamation suit against Kuantan-based local environmental group SMSL to Kuantan, Pahang. He also rejected an application from Lynas to stay the transfer pending an appeal.[62]
  • 4 October 2012 – The Kuantan High Court kept on hold the license granted to Lynas’ controversial rare earth plant near Kuantan by delaying until October 10 a decision on whether it would consider judicial reviews to permanently block production.[63]
  • 10 October 2012 – The Kuantan High Court continues to keep on hold a license granted to Lynas rare earth plant, delaying until November-8 a decision on whether it will consider judicial reviews aimed at permanently blocking production.[64]
  • 8 November 2012 – Kuantan High Court lifted the suspension on Lynas’ TOL to operate its controversial rare earth plant near Kuantan. However, SMSL will appeal the Kuantan High Court’s decision trying to get the TOL suspended again.[65]
  • 14 November 2012 – The Kuantan High Court judge Mariana Yahya has rejected the application for an Erinford injunction by SMSL to freeze the issuance of the TOL to Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) near Kuantan.[66]
  • 7 December 2012 – The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya has fixed Dec 19 to hear the appeal by the Kuantan residents for a permanent stay in their bid to stop the operation of the controversial Lynas rare earth plant until the residents’ judicial review application is disposed of. The hearing of the judicial review application to quash the decision of AELB and MOSTI to issue TOL to LAMP, was fixed on 5 Feb 2012, before the Kuantan High Court.[67]

References

  1. ^ Opposition makes inroads in Pahang
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  3. ^ eks Ucapan Perbahasan Peringkat Jawatankuasa Kementerian Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar
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  6. ^ Video Clip – Rare Earth Gebang Kuantan NTV7 19-09-2009 Part 2
  7. ^ Video Clip – Rare Earth Gebang Kuantan NTV7 19-09-2009 Part 3
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  10. ^ Mitsubishi Quietly Cleans Up Its Former Refinery
  11. ^ A Refinery Rises in Malaysia
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  15. ^ Video Clip Part 2 – Stop Lynas! Solidarity Walk, 20 May 2011
  16. ^ Video Clip Part 3 – Stop Lynas! Solidarity Walk, 20 May 2011
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  18. ^ Video Clip – Al-Jazeera 101 East – Toxic profits?
  19. ^ Video Clip – Australian Network News: Malaysians campaign against rare earth mine
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  22. ^ Lynas plant on hold as government forms review panel
  23. ^ IAEA names Lynas refinery review panel
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  27. ^ We’re not your guinea pigs, Beserah folk tell AELB
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  29. ^ IAEA also gave green light for Bukit Merah, says SAM
  30. ^ Nix Lynas plant, says doctors’ association
  31. ^ Lawyers want Lynas out of Malaysia
  32. ^ The Fear of a Toxic Rerun
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