MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Valid concerns exist behind failed appeal over Lynas licence extension: Court

The Court of Appeal has dismissed Save Malaysia Stop Lynas’ (SMSL) appeal over the government’s 2019 decision to extend Lynas’ operating licence for six months, however, the court noted that there was valid concern behind the failed judicial review.

In reading out the unanimous decision of the three-person bench today, judge Azizul Azmi Adnan remarked that their decision to not allow the appeal by SMSL chairperson Tan Bun Teet and two Kuantan residents was due to events superseding the appeal.

Azizul’s ruling that the appeal is now academic was in reference to Lynas last year having obtained renewal of its permit from the Anwar Ibrahim-led administration to import and process rare earths until 2026.

In July 2021, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed the judicial review, leading to SMSL appealing to the appellate court.

Radioactive concerns

On behalf of appellate bench chairperson Supang Lian and fellow panel member Mariana Yahya, Azizul remarked that the environmental debacle that was the Bukit Merah rare earth plant was not yet lost from the collective consciousness of Malaysians.

He pointed out that the three appellants in the case are placed in the unenviable position of having to live in proximity to a permanent disposal facility containing radioactive material.

Azizul noted that the half-life of thorium is approximately 14 billion years, which underscored the permanent nature of the disposal facility.

He remarked that the water leach purification residue produced by the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Gebeng, near Kuantan, can be expected to continue to be radioactive for the duration of the lives of all those present in court today.

Azizul said the duration can not only encompass the lives of their children but also that of their children's children.

“For these reasons, we are of the considered view that the appellants have a valid concern to have commenced the judicial review application and that the application was not a frivolous one,” he added.

Azizul dismissed the appeal and directed the parties to bear their own costs.

The Court of Appeal bench also removed the lower court’s order for the three appellants to pay RM20,000 costs to Lynas and 30 other respondents.

Among the other respondents were former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was leading the government at the time and former members of his cabinet, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, Lynas, and the federal government.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar appeared for the three appellants.

Cecil Abraham acted for Lynas. Senior federal counsel Nur Irmawatie Daud represented the government. - Mkini

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