Public hearing on Lynas takes an unexpected turn

May 10, 2012 (Source: The Star) — The public hearing on the Lynas rare earth refinery took an unexpected turn when Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas (SMSL) chairman Tan Bun Teet requested to be granted immunity by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC).

Tan told the PSC that he had crucial evidence to prove the plant in Gebeng here was not safe and would only divulge it if he was granted immunity from libel.

“I want the PSC to provide a written guarantee that the necessary Parliamentary privilege be granted so that the evidence given will not be used against SMSL for a libel suit,” he said Thursday.

PSC members Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Datuk Zulkifli Noordinthen asked Tan to just reveal it if he was so sure it was the truth.

Tan stood his ground and repeated the demand only to be told by PSC chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin that the committee did not have the power to grant it.

Tan then staged a walkout with his delegation.

He told reporters outside that he would reveal the evidence in due time in the courtroom.

Mohamed Khaled said the walkout appeared to be pre-planned as Tan had prepared a press statement which was distributed immediately afterwards.

“Before entering the room, he already knew he was going to ask something which was impossible for the committee to grant.

“Even MPs who are speaking outside the Parliament are subject to libel,” he said.

There was another heated moment during the hearing when Indera Mahkota MCA Youth chief David Choi shot back at Zulkifli while he was asking a question directed at Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) representative Dr Carmen Chew.

“This is not the Parliament. The Government appointed you to listen to us, not to pressure us with questions,” said Choi.

Zulkifli had asked Dr Chew whether she agreed the ore processed at the old Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah were tin tailings.

He also asked if there was a study conducted to determine whether the birth defects suffered by children born there was linked to the plant’s operations.

“I just wanted to know so we can propose a study if there was none done. Why do you feel pressured?” Zulkifli queried.

The PSC also listened to a delegation led by Pahang Bar Committee chairman Hon Kai Ping as well as other Kuantan residents representatives during the four-hour hearing.

The public hearing will continue Friday at Universiti Malaysia Pahang in Gambang on Saturday.