Legal action to stop Australian mining company Lynas from operating a rare earths processing plant in Malaysia has hit a snag.
The Attorney-General objected to an application for judicial review over a government’s decision to grant Lynas a temporary operating licence.
Lynas says there’s no legal basis to the residents’ claims that the licence is illegal, adding that it will leave the decision in the hands of the appropriate authorities.
Some 10 residents living within the vicinity of Lynas Advanced Material processing plant in Gebeng took their case to the court on Tuesday morning.
They sought a judicial review over a decision by Malaysia’s atomic energy licensing board to grant Lynas a temporary operating licence.
They argued that the licence was unlawful as no details on environment impact assessment report was done as required under the Environmental Protection Act.
But the court has adjourned the hearing after objection was filed not by the respondents Lynas, nor the licensing board, but by the Attorney general himself.
The Kuantan residents were disappointed with the Attorney-General’s objection to the application for judicial review. The AG said only the atomic energy licensing board can review its own decision, the court cannot intervene.
Andansura Rabu, Chair of Stop Lynas Coalition, said: “Memorandum had been sent out even to the prime minister, so appealing to the ministry at this stage I think is not the issue. This issue as of now we want Lynas to be retracted, cancelled and Lynas to close.”
The residents have threatened more protests if their grievances are not addressed by the judiciary.
The court has adjourned with the next hearing set for March 20.
Some 700,000 residents are believed to be living within a 10-kilometre radius of the plant.
Prime minister Najib Razak had said there is no scientific evidence to show that the plant is harmful to residents in the vicinity.