MACC to interview Lim Guan Eng and Norlela Ariffin over illegal factory

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Norlela Ariffin are expected to be called up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to give statements over the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.

MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed that both would have their statements recorded at a suitable time.

"This is a normal procedure to call up them up as they have talked about the matter publicly. Their statements are needed to complete the investigations," he said.

The Star on Sunday (Aug 13) reported that the MACC is investigating two letters, which appear to have originated from state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, asking that no action be taken against an illegal factory.

The letters, written in 2015 and 2016, directed the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) from shutting down the carbon filter-processing factory which has been operating illegally for the past 10 years.

Phee has been remanded for five days since Saturday together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Leong, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, who is the factory manager.

It is understood that a third MPSP officer has also been summoned to give his statement.

Last Friday, two officers from the Enforcement Department and the Licensing Department were also called up.

"They were not arrested," Mr Azam said.

He added that the MACC also conducted several raids and seized documents from Phee's office at Komtar and his house in Sungai Puyu.

On Sunday, MACC officers spent more than an hour at his service centre in Jalan Ong Yi How in Butterworth. With them was Phee.

It was learnt that the MACC also raided two of his houses in Butterworth on Sunday.

In Alor Setar, an attempt by lawyers representing Phee and two others to quash their remand order was rejected by the High Court.

Judge Hashim Hamzah told Ramkarpal Singh, R.S.N Rayer and Dev Kumaraendran that their application should have been filed at the Penang High Court as it was the "suitable forum" for the matter.

Mr Ramkarpal said they would file an application at Penang High Court on Monday.

The MACC and several enforcement agencies first raided the factory last Thursday following complaints from villagers that its fumes could affect their health.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker criticised the Democratic Action Party (DAP) for "bullying and blaming" Dr Norlela for her request to the authorities to take action against the factory.

He said DAP cannot play the victim card now because Malaysians are beginning to see the party's hypocrisy when it comes to corruption issues.

"DAP should allow the MACC to do its work without any hindrance and own up when their leaders are embroiled in corruption,"Mr Ti said in a statement.

Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Akhbar Satar said MACC should be allowed to investigate the case professionally and fairly without fear or favour.

"Let the due process take its course and let us wait for the outcome of the investigations," he said.