MACC and IRB swoop on il­le­gal saw­dust fac­tory

New Straits Times - - News -

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Fail­ure by the author­i­ties to take ac­tion against an il­le­gal saw­dust fac­tory in Sun­gai Lembu here de­spite nu­mer­ous com­plaints prompted the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) to launch a mas­sive op­er­a­tion yes­ter­day.

Be­sides the saw­dust fac­tory, MACC also raided the fac­tory’s of­fice and Se­berang Prai Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil’s (MPSP’s) Li­cens­ing Depart­ment at Ban­dar Perda here.

MACC of­fi­cers were seen en­ter­ing the MPSP build­ing at 10.30am, and left three hours later with bags of doc­u­ments, be­lieved to be on the fac­tory’s op­er­a­tions.

They were also seen leav­ing the fac­tory’s of­fice with stacks of doc­u­ments. The In­land Rev­enue Board, which joined the op­er­a­tion, also left with doc­u­ments.

Sources said the owner of the fac­tory might have un­der-de­clared its in­come.

A 70-year-old su­per­vi­sor at the fac­tory was de­tained and taken to the MACC of­fice in Se­berang Prai for ques­tion­ing.

Sources said the saw­dust fac­tory had been op­er­at­ing il­le­gally for 10 years on a plot of agri­cul­tural land.

“The fac­tory has caused much hard­ship to res­i­dents and re­sulted in health prob­lems.

“There has also been an in­flux of il­le­gal mi­grant work­ers,” a source said.

“Prior to this, re­ports have been lodged by the lo­cals to the author­i­ties on the fac­tory’s op­er­a­tions but no ac­tion had been taken.”

Mean­while, nine Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers in the fac­tory, in­clud­ing a woman, were de­tained by Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers, who were also in­volved in the op­er­a­tion.

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment (DoE) will take ac­tion against the fac­tory for not in­stalling an air pol­lu­tion con­trol sys­tem.

In May 2015, dur­ing the Per­matang Pauh by-elec­tion, the New Straits Times re­ported PKR’s Penanti as­sem­bly­woman Dr Nor­lela Arif­fin’s frus­tra­tion with the go­ings-on in her con­stituency, which in­cludes Sun­gai Lembu.

Nor­lela, a first-term as­sem­bly­woman, did not hide her frus­tra­tion when her move to ta­ble five mo­tions in the state leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly then — among oth­ers to re­solve land clear­ing and the set­ting up of il­le­gal fac­to­ries in the con­stituency — was shot down.

In the email made avail­able to NST then, she had de­tailed

the land clear­ing in Mukim 18, Sun­gai Lembu, and the es­tab­lish­ment of three il­le­gal fac­to­ries in Tanah Liat as the main cause of flash floods.

Nor­lela had ex­pressed grave con­cern as the fac­to­ries had not ad­hered to the stan­dards set by DoE, es­pe­cially on waste dis­charge pro­ce­dures.

She had lamented that pol­lu­tion from fac­to­ries had af­fected the health of lo­cals, and had urged the state plan­ning com­mit­tee to au­tho­rise MPSP to take ac­tion against such fac­to­ries, which she claimed, were built with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion.

She had said there was a tin ore fac­tory in Kubang Ulu and a car­bon fil­ter fac­tory in Sun­gai Lembu that caused health is­sues among the lo­cals, while in Tanah Liat, the set­ting up of a fac­tory had caused flash floods in a nearby vil­lage.

PIX BY SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

The il­le­gal saw­dust fac­tory in Sun­gai Lembu. (Inset) MACC of­fi­cers leav­ing the Se­berang Prai Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil build­ing with doc­u­ments from the coun­cil’s Li­cens­ing Depart­ment.

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