Make environment our 2018 priority


Our Environment is Our Life – YouTube

THE year has barely started, and already we have so many reports of weather and climate-related events.

Heavy wind, snow storms and below-freezing temperatures paralysed cities in the United States’ East Coast. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was in chaos with hundreds of flights suspended.

Yet, just weeks previously, big fires linked to a heat wave were sweeping through parts of California on the West Coast, burning 112.000ha of forest and threatening lives and homes.

Colder weather in one place and hotter temperatures in another are signs of global climate change, which can also cause heavier rainfall and drought in different regions.

While it is difficult to pin down any particular incident as a direct result of climate change, it is recognised scientifically that climate change generally exacerbates extreme weather events and may cause some of them.

We can expect the weather, and more broadly the environment, to figure prominently this year.

The alarm bells sounded long ago on the environmental crisis. But it is not easy to achieve a continuous high level of concern among political leaders.

After a calamity and public outrage, there are pledges to correct the situation. However, the interest fades after a while, and not much action is taken, until the next disaster happens.

In Malaysia, people are now looking at the sky constantly to anticipate whether it is going to rain.

Heavy rainfall has been causing floods in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak.

In Penang, severe state-wide flash floods seem to be occurring every few months, with localised flooding in several areas in between. The mud brought down from eroded hill-slopes into overflowing rivers and then into houses, makes floods an even worse nightmare for those affected.

For some unlucky ones, hardly have their houses and furniture been cleaned than they are under one metre of water again through a new flood.

Heavier rain and more floods is the new normal in Malaysia. There has been an increase in rainfall for most parts of the country in 2000-2009 compared to 1970-1999, with the major increase in 2005-2009, according to a 2012 paper by Yap Kok Seng, then the head of the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment (MMD), and his colleagues.

The global temperature increase has led to changes in weather including major wind patterns, amount and intensity of precipitation, and increased frequency of severe storms and weather extremes, according to the paper, Malaysia Climate Change Scenarios.

In Malaysia since the 1980s, there had been increasing number of days of extreme rainfall events, extreme wind events and annual thunderstorm days, added the paper.

Unfortunately the situation will worsen. A study published on Jan 10, whose authors are affiliated with Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, predicted that millions more people will be affected by river flooding as global warming increases severe rainfall in the next 20 years.

In Asia, the most affected region, people at risk from floods will rise to 156 million from the present 70 million in the next 20 years.

Global warming increases the risk of flooding because rain during an extreme downpour “increases exponentially” as temperatures rise, the institute’s Anders Levermann told Reuters.

“We have to adapt to global warming. Doing nothing will be dangerous,” he said.

Countries will have to act urgently and make major investments in flood protection to boost their flood defences, according to the report.

This advice surely applies to Malaysia as one of the countries already being affected by heavier rainfall and extensive river flooding.

Flood mitigation measures must be increased, including de-silting, widening and deepening rivers, improving urban drainage, strengthening river banks, redirecting water flows, constructing tidal gates, and pumping excess water into ponds.

Even more important is flood prevention. A main cause of the floods is deforestation, leading to the loss of the forests’ valuable roles in soil and water retention and climate regulation.

It is really short-sighted and irrational to damage and destroy forests, especially forest reserves and water catchment areas.

Exposed soils are swept by rain into rivers, clogging up streams and drains with mud and causing floods downstream in the towns and villages, while also depriving us of much-needed water supply.

There is a great deal of public concern over recent developments that threaten forests and hill lands in the country.

These include the de-gazetting of the Ulu Muda water catchment area in Kedah; the de-gazetting of hill lands in Penang that previously were protected under the Land Conservation Act and which are now being “developed” with the aid of higher permitted density ratio; the conversion of 4,515ha forest reserve to cultivate oil palm plantations in Terengganu (being opposed by WWF-Malaysia); and protests over the imminent loss of a forested park in Taman Rimba Kiara in Kuala Lumpur to make way for housing.

Federal, state and local governments should give priority to environmental rehabilitation of damaged forests and hills, prevent damage to the coastal ecosystem including mangroves, and take comprehensive flood prevention and mitigation measures.

They should stop approving environmentally harmful projects in ecologically sensitive areas.

They must make major financial allocations to protect and rehabilitate the environment, and implement finance measures to prevent and manage the floods.

As so many scientists are warning, and as more and more local communities and citizen groups are demanding, the time to act on the environment is now. Let us hope that in 2018 these calls will be heeded.

Global trends by Martin Khor

Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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Who is sabotaging Penang undersea tunnel project?


Penang govt to blame, says Lau

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional should not be blamed as it is DAP’s own doing that “sabotaged” the Penang undersea tunnel project, said Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau (pic).

He added it began when the DAP-led Penang government failed to provide feasibility reports on the project, which were supposed to be completed by April 2016.

“You missed the deadline and in October 2017, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) said there is no more urgency to complete the reports.

“Based on the original timeline, the first phase of the project was supposed to start construction in the first quarter of 2015 and completed by this year.

“As of now, this first phase has not even started construction,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Despite the multiple delays in the reports and the construction starting date, he said the Penang government did not appear to have penalised the SPV.

He said when the project was awarded, a statement was issued stating that shareholders of the SPV consortium are China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG), Zenith Construction, Juteras Sdn Bhd and Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd.

“But today, CRCC, BUCG and Sri Tinggi were no longer listed as shareholders while Juteras Sdn Bhd is listed as winding up – leaving only one (Zenith Construction) out of the four shareholders in the agreement.

“Despite a material change of the financial and technical strength promised during the award and what it is now, the Penang government still does not appear to want to cancel the project or penalise the SPV,” he said.

“Even five years after the contract was awarded, the SPV still only has paid-up capital of RM26.5mil – way below the RM381mil minimum paid-up capital required by the Penang government to deliver the project.

“Meanwhile, the SPV is on course to make billions in two property projects valued at RM800mil and RM15bil respectively,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Datuk Eric See-To said the agreement shown to the media by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was different from the one MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said was not stamped.

The agreement shown by Lim in a press conference on Friday was between the Penang state government with Consortium Zenith-BUCG; and not between the state and CRCC.

Previously, the Penang state government had shown a copy of a letter of support from the CRCC to prove that it is a party to the SPV awarded to undertake the undersea tunnel project.

On Tuesday, Dr Wee’s statement noted that the Acknowledgement of Commitment signed by the state government with CRCC was not a legally binding document and was hence not stamped.



Related Link:


Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists – Nation

 

I was referring to three paired road projects, says Guan Eng – Nation …


Ti slams Penang govt over lack of transparency – Nation


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Tough questions on Penang turnel project; Engineering Consultant arrested in probe


 

 

 

In-depth query: A screen grab of the video where Dr Wee demanded explanations over the controversial Penang undersea tunnel.
Dr Wee, is trained as a civil engineer has a Master’s in traffic engineering and a PhD in transportation planning, believed to have worked as an Environmental Impact Assessment and Traffic Impact Assessment consultant for more than a decade. He is currently a minister in the
Prime Minister’s Department
.

Wee poses more questions to Guan Eng on tunnel project

Wee raises doubt over paid-up capital and ability of SPV – Nation

Lim: Contract between CRCC and Penang govt legally binding …

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong threw hard-hitting questions at the Penang government, demanding an explanation for the controversial undersea tunnel project.

The MCA deputy president raised major concerns in videos uploaded in two parts to MCA’s YouTube channel.

He zeroed in on the changes in the paid-up capital of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) and how two Chinese construction giants have “disappeared” from the SPV shareholding.

He also touched on the state government’s “agreement” with China Railway Construction Corpo­ration Ltd (CRCC) and Penang’s insistence that no money was paid for the project.

In the videos, also uploaded on Dr Wee’s Facebook page, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department had a whiteboard to his left showing the changes in the shareholding while a television screen to his right displayed various documents.

Dr Wee wanted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to clarify why the SPV Consortium Zenith Construc­tion Sdn Bhd’s paid-up capital was reduced from RM4.6bil to RM70.5mil.

He said while Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) was no longer a shareholder in the SPV, CRCC was never in the picture.

Dr Wee said back in March 4, 2013, the state government’s official newsletter Buletin Mutiara published an article quoting state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus as saying the SPV had a paid-up capital of RM4.6bil, with Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd and CRCC jointly holding a 70% stake in it.

“We are in great shock because just days ago, CRCC went on record to deny ever being a shareholder and developer of the undersea tunnel SPV.

“Without the participation of CRCC and BUCG, the actual capital of the other component SPV back then is only RM8.2mil,” said Dr Wee, who is trained as a civil engineer and has a Master’s in traffic engineering and a PhD in transportation planning.

He, however, said the SPV had a total paid-up capital of RM70.5mil.

Dr Wee added that currently, Zenith Construction has a 47.12% equity in the SPV, Juteras Sdn Bhd (0.75%); Kenanga Nominees (Tempatan) Sdn Bhd (38.92%) and Vertice Bhd (formerly known as Voir Holdings Bhd, 13.21%).

He also revealed that Consortium Zenith BUCG Sdn Bhd was only registered on July 5, 2012, one day before the state government invited the consortium to submit a request for proposal (RFP).

“Chief Minister, you may argue that they formed the consortium just one day before to make it to the tender.

“But bear in mind your state secretary said the consortium was selected based on the financial and technical strength of CRCC and BUCG,” he said, adding that Zenith Construction was only less than three months old when it was then invited to participate in the pre-qualification for the tender.

Dr Wee also said that Acknowled­gement of Commitment signed by the state government with CRCC was not a legally binding document.

“Where is the stamping of documents as required and which is the Court of Arbitration to arbitrate disputes?” he asked.

Dr Wee also questioned Lim’s stand that not a single sen was paid when state exco member Lim Hock Seng replied in the state assembly on March 19 last year that a land swap deal worth RM208mil was identified.

“The said land has been developed and sales of properties for the City of Dreams (which is built on the land) are ongoing. Aren’t you aware of that?

Dr Wee also urged Lim to give a detailed breakdown of how Consor­tium Zenith reaped a significant after-tax profit of RM60mil for the financial year that ended on Aug 31, 2015, when it had only conducted studies and had yet to start any construction work.- The Star

Engineering Consultant arrested in tunnel probe 

‘Datuk Seri’ remanded for five days in Penang tunnel probe – Nation 

Datuk Seri remanded in probe

Magistrate Ainna Sherina Saipolamin allowed the 62-year-old “Datuk Seri” to be held in custody until Jan 29.

Engineering consultant remanded for five days – Nation

 

In custody: The consultant being taken out of the magistrate’s court in Putrajaya. — Bernama

 

PETALING JAYA: A senior engineering consultant in her 50s is the latest to be detained in connection with the probe over controversies surrounding the Penang undersea tunnel project.

The consultant is believed to have forged claim documents for the feasibility studies valued at RM305mil for the mega project of three main roads and an undersea tunnel to the state government, said a source familiar with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation.

The woman is expected to be remanded at the Putrajaya magistrate’s court today.

She was arrested at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya at 6.10pm yesterday after her statement was recorded.

“The investigators are trying to determine if other individuals were involved in the preparation of the falsified documents,” the source added.

The engineering consultant is the third person to be arrested in MACC’s investigations into the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Two high-ranking Datuks of development and construction companies were earlier arrested on Jan 9 before being remanded for six days beginning Jan 10.

The remand was then extended for another five days from Jan 15.

They were released on MACC bail of RM200,000 each on Jan 19 by the Putrajaya magistrate’s court.

On Monday, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operation) Datuk Seri Azam Baki had said that more individuals would be hauled up over the project.

The RM6.3bil mega project includes building the 7.2km undersea tunnel connecting Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam in north Butterworth, 10.53km North Coastal Paired Road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang, 5.7km Air Itam-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass and the 4.075km Gurney Drive-Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway bypass.

The MACC has since recorded statements from more than 70 people and visited more than 40 premises in the course of their investigation.

By Royce Tan The Star

State govt can only hold SPV liable, says Wee

PETALING JAYA: Although Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has reiterated that not a single sen was paid for the feasibility study of the undersea tunnel, the fact remained that it was paid in kind, said Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Dr Wee, who is MCA deputy president, said the crux of the problem was that the state government had no contractual nexus with the contractor.

“The state government can only hold the special purpose vehicle (SPV) liable, not the contractor.

“Don’t confuse the people with the SPV and the contractor. SPV means you can hold it liable.

“If a contractor is subsequently awarded by the SPV, that’s between the contractor and the SPV.

“If the SPV fails to pay the contractor, the contractor has no obligations (to construct),” he said.

He added that he had conducted a comprehensive research and he knew what happened.

“I welcome this project, but it must be carried out in a proper manner. This is what I want.

“Don’t blame others. If at all you need to blame somebody, it is your SPV that you appointed.

“They keep on delaying the report, not us. We have no say in the report and we’ve not even seen it,” said Dr Wee.- The Star


Related Links:

 Difficult questions over tunnel sea project has party in a tight spot …

 

Contract value of roads increased significantly, says See-To – Nation …

 

Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists – Nation |



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Anti corruption agency MACC to interview Lim, and Norlela who did the right thing


Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will call up Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin to facilitate investigations into the Sungai Lembu’s illegal factory case.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr 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.

Sunday Star 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 was remanded 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.

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

“They were not arrested,” 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.

Yesterday, 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 yesterday.

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.

Ramkarpal said they would file an application at Penang High Court today.

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

Meanwhile, MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker criticised 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,” 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.

Source: The Star by Crystal Chiam Shiying and Lo Tern Chern

Norlela did the right thing – She’s merely fulfilling her duty to constituents, says state Gerakan Chief

Geroge Town – State Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow has defended Penanti’s PKR assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, who has been voicing out concerns on the illegal factory operation in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

“What we are concerned about is that the matter had been dragged on for so long.



“Her complaints fell on deaf ears for so long, so you can’t penalized her.



“She has raised it many times, in the state assembly, to the authorities and Village Security and Development Committee, but there was no action,” he told a press conference after attending the State Delegates’ Conference 2017 at the state Gerakan Heeadquaters in Macalister Road yesterday.

It was reported that Dr. Norlela denied that she was responsible for the action being taken against an illegal carbon filter processing factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

She refuted the accusations in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying that she had highlighted complaints from her constituents.

Dr. Norlela said she was disappointed that she was blamed for the arrest of state exco member Phee Boon Poh.

Commenting on several past actions against Dr. Norlela, including having a state allocation to her constituency withheld pending her written explanation for not attending the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s swearing-in ceremony in May, Teng said Gerakan may have differences with other Barisan National component parties, but it never penalized them.

He said that when Gerakan led the government, he had faced criticisms from MCA representatives but no action was taken against them.

Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong opened the event. – The Star

Gerakan defends PKR’s Norlela over Penang illegal factory issue

GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin should not be penalised for speaking up on the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, said state Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow today.

“Being the state assemblyman of the constituency, she had every right to raise questions about the illegal factory.

“She was merely performing her duty,” he said during a press conference here, today.

He was responding to Norlela’s claim that she was treated like a criminal after expressing her gratitude to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for taking action against the illegal factory.

“Thank you to the MACC for solving the issues which have been plaguing the villagers there. We have been doing our best to help the villagers,” she had said in a Facebook posting recently.

She had said that in May this year, she received an 18-page petition, signed by 180 villagers, objecting against the illegal carbon filter factory.

“I raised several questions at the state legislative assembly sitting the same month. The state environment committee chairman had said the factory was burning 2,000 tonnes of sawdust monthly to be turned into activated carbon for water filters,” she had said.

On Thursday, MACC and other agencies raided the factory in Bukit Mertajam after numerous complaints to the authorities fell on deaf ears.

This was followed by further raids at the Seberang Perai Municipal Council licensing department offices and state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh’s office, service centre and houses.

Phee is being remanded for five days pending investigations into an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam.

He was detained after he went to MACC’s office to have his statement recorded on Friday.

Yesterday, Norlela revealed that she had been treated like a criminal since Phee’s arrest.

Source: NST By BALVIN KAUR

MACC gets more statements in illegal factory case

BUKIT MERTAJAM: No one has yet to be charged over the illegal carbon filter processing factory in Sungai Lembu as graft-busters are still investigating the case and gathering evidence.

Three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers showed up at the village yesterday and were seen talking to several residents there for about an hour in a coffeeshop.

Sungai Lembu Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Tan Sing Lee and some businessmen staying and running businesses near the factory were later summoned to the MACC office in Butterworth to give statements.

“Initially, they wanted to record our statements at the coffeeshop but on seeing the press, they told us to go to their office instead,” Tan said.

Tan arrived at the MACC office with JKKK secretary Yeo Keng Chuan at about 1.30pm and left about 45 minutes later.

A spokesman for the MACC said it had recorded statements from several people, and that no arrest was made.

“We are still investigating,” he said.

Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Lee, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, were arrested by the MACC on Aug 11.

But all walked free last Monday after their remand orders were set aside by the High Court.

The spokesman said the MACC would be appealing the court decision.

Meanwhile, Gerakan took Penang PKR assemblymen to task for not defending Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin against the barrage of attacks that came after she exposed the illegal factory.

“Why haven’t the men in PKR come to her aid? Are they so afraid of being victimised by DAP?” said state Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong.

“What is also baffling is that the incident happened in the PKR fortress of Permatang Pauh,” he told a press conference.

He claimed that what happened to Dr Norlela was nothing new because Tanjung Bungah DAP assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu was also sidelined for speaking the truth.

Meanwhile in Kota Kinabalu, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said no investigation paper has been opened in the acquisition of the Grand Borneo Hotel by Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), purportedly at a higher market price.

He said it was still premature to suspect any wrongdoings in the purchase of the three-star hotel (in Kota Kinabalu).

“We are not moving in as yet. Our focus is still on the ongoing probe on FIC’s purchases of the two hotels in London and Kuching.

“Besides, there is still a need to compare the valuation reports during the time of purchase and the actual value of the Kota Kinabalu hotel,” he said when contacted.

Azam was asked to comment on a report suggesting that the MACC was to conduct a probe on a third hotel managed by FIC.

The Grand Borneo was said to have been acquired by Felda for RM86.4mil in 2012.

Azam said there were no plans to send MACC officers to Sabah.

Sabah MACC director Datuk Sazali Salbi also said that his state officers were not involved in any probe over the matter.

It is learnt the MACC would focus on completing the ongoing probe first as the remand order for Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad ends tomorrow.

On Tuesday, the former Felda chairman was arrested by the MACC after he was called in to give his statements over FIC’s purchase of hotels in London and Kuching.

The MACC is investigating suspicion of power abuse and corruption in the purchases of the two hotels.

So far, anti-graft officers have visited Mohd Isa’s houses in Selangor, Nilai, Linggi and Seremban, as well as his office at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) headquarters. Mohd Isa is acting SPAD chairman.

It was reported that cash amounting to RM100,000 was seized from a safe in one of his houses. – The Star.

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Dzulkifli Ahmad said such acts can be deemed as interfering with investigations and are pun

 Wee: Stop the double standards – Nation

Lawyer: MACC did not notify Phee about action taken on bank …  Clueless about freezing order

Phee: I don’t have RM2mil in my bank accounts – Nation

Phee’s accounts with RM2mil frozen for a few months – Nation

MACC gets more statements in illegal factory case: Read on the original site

 

Stop blaming past Penang govt’

 

 

Factory’s burning sawdust pits greet DoE inspection team

Phee freed but MACC plans to appeal High Court’s decision

 

No protection for corrupt in Penang govt, says Guan Eng | Free …

 The Penang government will not protect any of its officials … Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says he believes state exco man Phee Boon … Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.

PKR rep Norlela blamed for Phee’s arrest 
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Penang exco man held in graft probe for abuse of power


 

 

Arrest linked to illegal operation of carbon filter factory in Bukit Mertajam

For 10 years, a factory has been illegally burning sawdust to produce carbon for filters, forcing villagers and schoolchildren in parts of Bukit Mertajam to breathe dust-laden smoke every day. The matter has now flared up with the arrest of Penang exco man Phee Boon Poh and two of the factory’s directors by the MACC. All three are set to be remanded today.

GEORGE TOWN: An illegal carbon filter processing factory has become a burning issue in Penang with the arrest of state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh and two factory di­­rectors by graft-busters from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­­sion (MACC).

All three are expected to be remanded today.

The factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam was in the news on Wednesday when MACC officers raided its premises and seized several documents.

Yesterday, a team of five MACC officers raided Phee’s office at Level 53 in Komtar at about 11.30am and took away more documents.

Phee, who chairs the state Wel­­fare, Caring Society and Envi­­ron­­ment Committee, was asked to report to the Penang MACC headquarters in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. He was arrested at 3.30pm when he turned up at the MACC building.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said Phee was detained under Section 23 of the MACC Act for abuse of power.

The section provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The 66-year-old Phee was brought back to his house in Butterworth at about 5pm in his car and escorted by two MACC vehicles. It is learnt that he packed some personal be­­longings from his house before lea­­ving for the state MACC headquarters at 7.05pm.

The MACC also arrested a 70-year-old man and his 37-year-old son, the manager and director of the factory, at 6.05pm and 6.35pm respectively.

The two were summoned to the state MACC headquarters to give their statements before they were detained.

Lawyer R.S.N. Rayer, who accompanied Phee to the Penang MACC headquarters, said the exco man was asked to meet MACC officers after 2pm.

“I was informed that they (MACC officers) went to his office and took some documents including letters that he wrote. They wanted to re­­cord his statement regarding the documents.

“He gave his full cooperation and presented himself at the MACC office. I am surprised that he was arrested,” he said before leaving the state MACC building at about 4.30pm.

Earlier, the five MACC officers spent more than an hour in Phee’s office.

Shortly after they left, Phee and four assistants walked out of the office.

Phee declined to comment on the raid.

He is the second member of the current Penang state administration to be arrested by the MACC.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was arrested in June last year over the purchase of a RM2.8mil bungalow in Pinhorn Road.

He was subsequently charged with using his position as the Chief Minister of Penang to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in south-west Penang to the com­­pany, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He allegedly committed the of­­fence while chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room in the Komtar building on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain a plot of land and a bungalow located at No 25 Jalan Pinhorn, George Town, on July 28, 2015, from businesswoman Phang Li Koon for RM2.8mil, a price which he allegedly knew did not commensurate with the property’s market value at the time of RM4.27mil.

The charge, under Section 165 of the Penal Code, provides for a jail term of up to two years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Late last night, Lim was among several DAP leaders and members who turned up outside the state MACC headquarters to stage a candlelight vigil in support of Phee.

Source: The Star by crystal chiam shiying, chong kah yuan, lo tern chern, andlogeiswary thevadass

10 years of smoke in the eyes for villagers

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BUKIT MERTAJAM: For about 10 years now, the villagers of Kampung Sungai Lembu have been forced to breathe air laden with pollutants. Children going to school at SJK(C) Kampung Sungai Lembu also have had to put up with the thick dust.

The air is thick with a burning smell from the processing activities at an illegal carbon filter processing factory, just 1km away from the school.

The 5,000sq-m factory, about the size of a football field, has piles upon piles of sawdust, much of it burning in deep pits.

The tall chimneys spout white pollutant-filled smoke into the air which is carried to the nearby villages by the slight breeze.

A source from the Department of Environment revealed that the factory also did not have an air pollution control system.

Kampung Sungai Lembu Deve­lop­ment and Security Committee chairman Tan Sing Lee, 58, said the factory also carried out open burning of sawdust to produce carbon.

“Every time the wind blows our way especially in December, the air is polluted. At night, the air is foggy and villagers complain about the smell,” he said.

“We reported the matter to Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin but no action was taken in the past two years,” he said.

The factory is also situated inside an oil palm estate, on land designated for agriculture.

Tan claimed a man in his 30s died in 2015 after he fell into one of the pits while filling it with sawdust.

A check by The Star at the factory yesterday found 20 pits, each measuring about 3m across. The pits were filled with burning sawdust and there was smoke everywhere. The sawdust is burnt to produce carbon which is then used in filters.

Permatang Pauh Umno chief Da­­tuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said claimed there may have been people in­­volved in covering up the issue before the raid on the factory by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­­sion (MACC) on Thursday.

“Several reports have been lodged against the factory.

It is impossible for the Seberang Prai Municipal Council to not be aware of it,” he said during a press conference in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

Also present was Parti Cinta Malaysia deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan.

PKR rep Norlela glad over action against illegal factory

 

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Penan­ti’s PKR assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin (pic) is pleased that action is finally being taken by the MACC over an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

Dr Norlela said she raised the issue of the carbon filter processing factory more than two years ago. “The villagers told me about their concerns in February 2015. I raised the matter at the state assembly sitting but no ac­­tion was taken for two years,” she said.

It was in November that Dr Norlela broke down and sobbed uncontrollably at the assembly, clai­­ming the state government had failed to respond to her queries.

She lamented then that she had complained of many woes like illegal factories, frequent flooding and the lack of infrastructure like roads and proper jetties for fishermen.

“Early this year, before the state assembly sitting, villagers handed me an 18-page petition, appealing for the factory to be closed as they claimed it was affecting their health.

“It was also found that the factory was not operating according to guide­­­­lines,” she said yesterday.

In May, her allocation was withheld after she did not show up at the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s swearing-in ceremony.

Earlier this month, she complained that funds collected for flood mitigation had not been used to help her constituents.

“In Penanti alone, there are nine flood-prone areas that could greatly benefit from these funds,” she re­­portedly said, citing the Auditor Ge­­­ne­­ral’s Report 2016 Series 1 which revealed that the Seberang Prai Municipal Council had only used RM2.2mil of RM63.39mil collected from 2008 to June 2016.

Dr Norlela is among several as­­sem­­blymen who have been at loggerheads with the state leadership, often criticising it for not carrying out its duties or for not caring about the environment,

Last month, she praised the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT project and took a swipe at the Penang Transport Master Plan by comparing the construction cost of both projects in a video she posted on social media.


DAP’s lone ranger faces his biggest test

GEORGE TOWN: Two-term Pe­­nang executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, 66, gained fame as a vocal opposition leader when he took on 38 Barisan Nasional representatives in the state assembly when he was the sole DAP assemblyman from 2004 until 2008.

Despite being overwhelmed, the “lone ranger” raised many issues.

Although PAS was represented by Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, it was Phee who questioned the policies of the state administration headed by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Phee began his political career by winning the Bagan Jermal state seat in 1990, only to lose it to Barisan’s Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum in 1995.

In 1999, he contested the Sungai Puyu seat but lost to Barisan’s Loo Ah Dee. In 2004, he wrested it from Loo with a 607-vote majority.

In 2008, he retained his state seat with a 9,201-vote majority and was appointed state Welfare and Caring Society chairman.

He later took over the environment portfolio from state exco member Chow Kon Yeow.

In the 2013 general election, he beat MCA’s Sum Yoo Keong by 16,207 votes.

Phee is a distant relative of businesswoman Phang Li Koon, who has been charged with abetment in the two corruption cases against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.


MACC probes Phee’s letters – Directing council to ‘stay away’ under investigation

Phee Boon Poh mobbed by the media after he was remanded in George Town. — ZAINUDIN AHAD and ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PENANG: The Malaysian Anti-Corrup­tion Commission (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 from shutting down the carbon filter-processing factory which had been operating illegally for the past 10 years.

The MACC is also investigating whether Phee or his officials had authorised the letters telling the council to back off.

As Phee and two of the company’s directors were remanded yesterday, the MACC is expected to call up a DAP state assemblyman for questioning.

The MACC is believed to be investigating the role of this state assemblyman in the case.

It is understood that MACC is also probing the relationship between Phee and the factory owners.

It wants to find out how the factory could operate openly despite complaints from the villagers nearby.

“The illegal factory is on an agro-based land. (We want to know) why it has been able to operate without any action (taken against it),” a source told Sunday Star.

 

Too close for comfort: The illegal carbon filter-processing factory still operating and its proximity to Kampung Sungai Lembu and surrounding areas near Bukit Mertajam. 

When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said the anti-graft body will carry out a thorough probe and look into all angles.

Azam said investigations will focus on the element of abuse of power.

“We have opened an investigation paper under Section 23 of the MACC Act.

“We will look into whether one of the suspects has given (any form of) protection to the illegal factory to enable it to continue operating the last 10 years,” he said.

He declined to elaborate further as investigations were ongoing.

Sources said anti-graft officers revisited the house of the state exco member in Sungai Puyu on the mainland to look for more evidence to assist in the probe.

It is not immediately known if documents were seized.

The homes and offices of two other suspects will also be revisited as part of the probe.

More arrests are expected in the coming days as investigations into the case widen.

Source: The Star by simon khoo, crystal chiam shiying, lo tern chern, akil yunus

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 The Penang government will not protect any of its officials … Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says he believes state exco man Phee Boon … Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.

 

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Penang Chief Minister may have too much on his plate, be fair when sharing power


 

CM may have too much on his plate

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Gerakan has questioned the efficiency of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as the chairman of numerous state-linked agencies and departments.

Its publicity bureau chief Ooi Zhi Yi said that besides being the chief minister, the Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman chairs 11 agencies and departments.

“He was recently also appointed chairman of the Penang Stadium Corporation And Open Spaces at the state assembly sitting,” he said.

Ooi asked what had happened to the DAP’s decentralisation of administration and power-sharing policy which it claimed to advocate?

“Is Lim able to handle various responsibilities in different agencies and departments simultaneously?

“Why can’t the state government identify any state executive councillor or assemblyman to hold some of the posts?” he further asked at a press conference at the Gerakan headquarters yesterday

The 11 state agencies and departments which Lim heads are the Penang Development Corporation (PDC), PBA Holdings Bhd (PBAHB) and its unit Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), Penang Global Tourism (PGT), Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB), George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI), the Penang State Museum, investPenang and two subsidiaries under PDC namely the BPO Premier Sdn Bhd and Premier Horizon Ventures Snd Bhd.

When contacted yesterday, Wong Hon Wai, who is Lim’s political secretary, said it is a customary process for a state leader to hold important positions in all the government statutory bodies.

“It is similar to how the Prime Minister and Mentri Besar chair important government bodies,” he explained. – Tbe Star

‘Be fair when sharing power’‘

GEORGE TOWN: The MCA wants the Penang government to create a check-and-balance to counter the Chief Minister’s influence in 19-state linked agencies, statutory bodies and government subsidiaries which he helms.

Penang MCA organising secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said the mechanism must include NGOs such as the Penang Forum, Consumers Association of Penang and Penang Heritage Trust.

He said the NGOs should have the right to oppose and express their views whenever needed.

He said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had in a written reply to Sungai Dua assemblyman Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor at the recent state legislative assembly sitting revealed that he was the chairman of 19 bodies.

“This is not only shocking but also contradicts the CAT principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency which the DAP-led state claims to practise.

“Where is a person’s credibility if he holds all positions which are closely associated with his position as chief minister. And what about the power-sharing principle advocated by the state government?” Tan asked.

He said since Lim ‘monopolised’ most of the chairman positions, state exco members such as Chow Kon Yeow, Danny Law and Jagdeep Singh seemed to be given merely supplementary roles to play.

Among the bodies helmed by Lim are the Penang Development Corp (PDC), Penang Global Tourism, PICEB Sdn Bhd, PGC Strategies Sdn Bhd, Penang Water Supply Corp Bhd (PBAPP), PBA Holdings Bhd, Penang Hill Corp, Invest Penang and the state museum board.

He gets an annual RM10,000 allowance as PDC chairman, RM3,000 monthly allowance as PBAPP chairman and RM500 monthly allowance as PBA Holdings Bhd chairman.

Lim also gets allowances which range from RM250 to RM500 per meeting that he attends in some of the statutory bodies and subsidiaries that he helms. – The Star

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Penang low cost housing gone awry?


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Probe into housing bribery case

MACC investigating Penang rep’s father for allegedly soliciting money

GEORGE TOWN: The father of Sungai Pinang DAP assemblyman Lim Siew Khim is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly soliciting money from applicants for low-cost and affordable housing.

It is learnt that MACC has begun calling up several people after a video clip purportedly showing Lim’s father, Keat Seong, was posted on social media on Sunday explaining to some people how to “cut queue” in the state’s housing schemes by paying RM260 for the application form and a few thousand ringgit to one “Uncle Lim”.

Penang MACC director Datuk Abd Aziz Aban could not be reached for comment but it is learnt that the commission had begun gathering information yesterday from the so-called victims, those featured in the video and several Gerakan leaders who held a Monday press conference on this.

Penang MCA deputy chairman Tan Teik Cheng said the case may just be the tip of the iceberg.

He said the Penang government should take action over the alleged soliciting of bribes by Lim’s father, a 68-year-old retiree.

“The state government proudly proclaims its ‘ Competent, Accountable and Transparent’ (CAT) policy, hence it should address the case instead of playing up the drama to divert public attention.

“After all, the demand by Penangites for low-cost housing is still high in view of the exorbitant property prices,” he said in a statement yesterday.

State DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow has also posted on Facebook the photograph of headlines in three Chinese dailies and The Star, which all referred to Lim’s father.

The caption read: “We are politicians and public figures. What we do matters. Unfortunately, what our parents, spouses, in-laws, and even distant cousins do, also matters.”

Penang Gerakan Anti-Corruption and Land spokesman H’ng Khoon Leng said the party would be seeking an audience with the Penang Yang diPertua to ask for the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

State Housing Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said there was no need to form a commission as it came under the purview of the police.

By  Arnold Loh Tan Sin Chow The Star

Lim clarifies video comment

DAP rep forced to explain alleged bribery video statement

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/rxtjM3qK8Eo

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http://www.thestartv.com/episode/lim-clarifies-video-comment/

GEORGE TOWN: Sungai Pinang DAP assemblyman Lim Siew Khim has been forced to clarify her earlier comments on her father’s alleged corruption case involving affordable housing units after the release of a second video clip on the issue.

“I did receive a call from a youth leader from another party sometime last year but when I confronted my father, he denied any involvement,” she said after opening a Youth Empowerment programme in Sungai Pinang yesterday.

Last Sunday, a video clip purportedly showing Lim’s father, Lim Keat Seong, soliciting bribes to help obtain low-cost housing units in the state as early as June 2015 went viral after being posted on social media.

Siew Khim was then quoted as saying: “All this (in the video) was without my knowledge and I only knew about it on Sunday night.”

Now, a second video clip, which lasted about three minutes, was released yesterday.

This time it shows a screen-grab of a Whatsapp conversation between a mediator and a victim.

“I contacted her and gave her (Siew Khim) one day to reply and find ways for her father to return the money,” the mediator was heard as saying to the victim.

In another conversation, a man, who is said to be Siew Khim’s stepbrother Ong Hock Hin, was heard saying that his sister (Siew Khim) had asked for a meeting to be arranged with the aggrieved parties.

Siew Khim refused to comment on the contents of the second video, urging the person who released it to lodge a police report.

“Why release bits and pieces? They should report it to the police with their evidence,” she said.

Siew Khim also denied asking her stepbrother Ong to arrange for a meeting with any of the victims.

Asked why she only confirmed she had confronted her father when the second video surfaced, she said she could not remember it.

While her father has been remanded for seven days, Siew Khim was grilled for two hours by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) on Friday.

When contacted, Penang MACC director Datuk Abdul Aziz Aban said he was not aware of the second video but would direct his officers to investigate it.

Siew Khim’s counsel Ram Karpal said it was an offence to withhold information on the case as it was now investigated by the MACC.

“I urge anyone with information on the matter to pass it to MACC,” he said in Air Itam yesterday.

Penang DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the uploading of the two videos showed it was a politically motivated move against Siew Khim, the state government and DAP.

Source: The Star Malaysia 4 Sep 2016By R. SEKARAN rsekaran@thestar.com.my

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