Sg Lembu illegal factory probe: Norlela baffled by criticism, says willing to cooperate with MACC

BALVIN KAUR


GEORGE TOWN: PKR's Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin is prepared to cooperate with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the Sungai Lembu illegal factory issue.


Norlela said she was more than willing to speak to MACC if called upon in the course of the MACC investigation.


She said this was despite the fact that she had been receiving flak from her party members and allies for thanking the commission following the raid against the carbon filter factory on Thursday.


“Since my Facebook post on Friday, thanking MACC, I have been scolded by everyone. I had ended up blocking some people from reaching me because I could not bear the stress (of seeing the comments),” she said when contacted.


On Thursday, MACC and several agencies raided the Sungai Lembu illegal factory in Bukit Mertajam, following complaints and reports lodged by villagers.


Since then, MACC had launched more raids at Seberang Perai Municipal Council’s licensing department, State Environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh’s office in Komtar, service centre and two houses in Butterworth.


MACC seized several documents during these raids, including a letter allegedly by Phee ordering that no action to be taken against the factory.


Phee was detained by MACC on Friday, after he went to the MACC headquarters here to give his statement. Also detained were the 70-year-old manager of the factory and his 37-year-old son. The three has been remanded for five days.


Norlela, who had recently suffered from a stroke, said she was baffled by the backlash she had been receiving over the matter.


“I do not understand why they are angry with me. I was merely doing my job as an assemblyman when I brought up the issue in the state Legislative assembly


“I have been bringing up the issue at the State Legislative Assembly sitting since May 2015 and during the last sitting in May this year, my motion on the illegal factory was rejected and I was even scolded for it,” she said,


She said she had been glad when she heard action was finally taken against the factory as her constituents had been calling for justice for the past two years.


“I was caught between a rock and a hard place then, as my constituent were also upset with me over the lack of action against the factory.


“They did not understand that while I have been fighting for them, I did not have the power or authority to take any action against the factory,” she said.


She said in May this year, Sungai Lembu residents submitted a 18-page petition with more than 100 signatures complaining about the factory, which was emitting fumes that they feared was hazardous to their health. She said this also follows the death of a lorry driver, who had fallen into the kiln of the factory and burnt to death.


“Any one of the residents could have filed a complaint with MACC over the factories after their cries and even petition went unheard,” she said.


Norlela revealed that she had also been baffled by the lack of action against the factory.


“I had brought to the attention of the local council many other illegal factory including a aluminium smelting company in the past.


“In those times, the local council had even demolished the company after they failed to close up. So I was surprised there was nothing done against the carbon filter processing factory,” she said.


She said she was told that a RM250 compound was issued against the factory and that there were attempt to legalise the factory.


“However, the factory’s application for planning permission, which was vital for it to be legalised, was rejected by the One Stop Centre as the factory was sitting on a hill.


“Following that, I truly expected action to be taken against the factory.” she said.