PKR’s Nor­lela up­set at be­ing blamed for Pe­nang exco man’s ar­rest

New Straits Times - - News -

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

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