PKR’s Norlela upset at being blamed for Penang exco man’s arrest
GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin is now seen as public enemy No. 1 after her efforts to close down the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu resulted in the arrest of her comrade from Pakatan Harapan.
Speaking to the New Sunday Times, Norlela said her intentions were noble, and all she had wanted was for the factory to operate according to the requirements of the state authorities.
Her two-year-old battle came to fruition when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and other government agencies raided the factory on Thursday.
Following the raid, state Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh was arrested by MACC on Friday to facilitate investigations into the illegal factory.
Also arrested were the factory’s 70-year-old manager and his 37-year-old son, the factory’s director.
“My people sent me screenshots of Facebook comments and postings, as if I had planned to do this to Phee, who is from my Pakatan Harapan coalition.
“Some of the comments said I was doing this because the 14th General Election is drawing near, but that is not true. I am truly upset and de- pressed by this.
“The fact is I am not the one who lodged the report with MACC.
“I only highlighted the matter to the relevant authorities and at the state legislative assembly sitting.
“The enforcement part is beyond my control,” she said. Norlela also pointed out that there were many other reports made on illegal factories, including the one in Kubang Ulu, which is in her constituency, and it was solved at the local government level.
“I am merely performing my duties as an elected representative and it is my responsibility to solve the people’s problems.
“There is nothing politicallymotivated in this. People should not look at it in that sense,” she added.
Norlela claimed that 12 out of 500 villagers of Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam were suffering from cancer, allegedly due to pollution emitted by the factory.
She said Sungai Lembu’s village development and security committee had conveyed the news to her during a session with the villagers in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration in February year.
“For such a small population, the figure is quite high.
“There are claims that the burning of a huge volume of sawdust at the illegal carbon filter factory might have caused these people to suffer from cancer.
“We immediately informed the state Health Department to investigate and diagnose the cause of the cancer,” she said.
Norlela said the burning activities carried out by the factory were dangerous, and its Myanmar workers did not even wear face masks.
This was known after a raid conducted by the Land Office and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council on Feb 18.
“Their activities are very dangerous.
“I brought my son along during the checks, and after returning from the area, he had to be taken to the hospital as he was having breathing difficulties,” she added.
Meanwhile, State Health Department director Datuk Dr M. Sukumar told the New Sunday Times that 11 out of the 12 reported cases were confirmed cancer cases.
It was also understood that out of the 11, only two had lung cancer.
“The cause of the lung cancer could not be ascertained, but none of the victims worked at the carbon filter factory.”
Dr Norlela Ariffin