GEORGE TOWN: The situation turned rowdy when pro- and anti-Lynas groups started a war of words at Speaker's Square.
Two reporters were injured during the demonstration that was planned to show support for the anti-Lynas Himpunan Hijau 2.0 rally in Kuantan.
Lee Hong Chun, 25, and Adam Chew, 29, from Kwong Wah Yit Poh, were hit on the head with helmets at the initially peaceful demonstration which turned ugly when pro-Lynas and anti-Lynas groups traded insults and started shoving one another.
Lee and Chew sought treatment at the Penang Hospital.
Chew, who was wearing a green t-shirt, received eight stitches on his fingers on the right hand. His left eye was also injured.
He said he would see an eye specialist today.
The excitement among the crowd grew when Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng turned up to join other state executive councillors and the anti-Lynas crowd.
He led the crowd to say “Henti Lynas, selamatkan Malaysia.” Later, it took some 15 minutes for Lim's car, with him inside, to be driven out from Speaker's Square as the pro-Lynas group banged on the vehicle and blocked it from moving forward.
After his car managed to leave the area, a scuffle broke out between the two groups with some of them getting hit with helmets.
The crowd began to disperse at around 7.15pm when police, through a loudspeaker, told the crowd to leave the place.
George Town Deputy OCPD Supt Ahmad Bakhtiar Kassim said no one had been arrested. “The situation was tense but we manage to bring it under control,” he said.
The gathering was held to protest the rare earth plant operated by Australia's Lynas Corp in Gebeng, Kuantan, which has been given a temporary operating licence.