Putrajaya taken to task for deporting activist

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KUALA LUMPUR: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Himpunan Hijau condemned the detention and deportation of Sydney-based anti-Lynas campaigner Natalie Lowrey (pic) yesterday, saying that it only proved that Putrajaya was more interested in protecting the interest of a corporation over the well-being of its people.

The two non-governmental organisations also disapproved over how Lowrey was treated during her 13-hour detention at klia2, saying that she was not given any food or water until yesterday morning.

“The consular officer of the New Zealand High Commission had raised the concern with the Immigration Department last night (Sunday) and was informed that Lowrey will be given water soon as they were busy processing her deportation at the time.

“Obviously this is a lie, because Natalie was only given water to drink this (Monday) morning,” Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng and Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack said in a joint statement yesterday.

According to a statement by the Australian “Stop Lynas” movement, the two-year temporary occupation licence (TOL) given to Australian miner Lynas Corp Ltd, which is operating the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp), was expected to expire today.

The main concern over the rare earth plant is contamination of the coastal environment and the adverse health impact that could result from the mismanagement of radioactive waste streams.

Two months ago, Lowrey was arrested along with 15 other locals for staging a peaceful protest to get Lynas to close down its operations in Kuantan.

She was released six days later, but the local activists were charged and are now facing trial.

In their statement, Yap and Wong said the action of the Malaysian government in deporting Lowrey painted the country in a bad light in the eyes of the international community.

“Such treatment is unjustified and unwarranted and tainted with clear intent of bad faith to punish Lowrey.

“It also reveals that our government is more interested in protecting the Australian company, Lynas Corp Ltd, rather than the interest and the health of its own people in Kuantan.”

The duo also called on Putrajaya to remove Lowrey’s name from the blacklist and drop the charges against the 15 activists.

Suaram and Himpunan Hijau also urged the authorities not to grant a permanent operating licence to the rare earth plant operator when the TOL expires.

Lowrey’s lawyer Farhana Halim told The Malaysian Insider that they might consider challenging the validity of her detention and deportation once they get a clearer picture. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 2, 2014.