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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Phee and two others remanded for five days

 

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption (MACC) movement underway on zero tolerance for graft


WE HAVE long grumbled that there should be stronger and swifter action against high-ranking officials who use their positions for personal gain instead of serving the public interest.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) ongoing streak of arrests and court cases involving senior officers in civil service and the private sector is encouraging, but even that may not satisfy the cynics, who are likely to point out that there are plenty more big fish out there and that there is no sign of a decline in corruption and abuse of power.

That is an easy thing to do – blame others when things do not go well and then expect the corruption fighters to clean up a huge and complex mess. But it surely cannot be the only thing we are capable of doing.

The MACC has a suggestion: to join the “revolutionary movement” against corruption.

That sounds like a lot of work, but Gerakan Revolusi Anti-Rasuah (Gerah) is actually a nationwide awareness campaign to change how people view corruption and abuse of power.

The ultimate aim is to enlist the support of the people in the war against corruption by shaping society to “hate, reject and fight corruption”.

“Our intention is to create a sense of fear and uneasiness so that wrongdoers will feel the heat. They should, for they are gambling away the peace, security and harmony of society, as well as jeopardising the country’s growth,” MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad told Sunday Star.

The commission will mobilise 2,000 officers from all over the country to meet the people and foster closer rapport and cooperation.

This is not a mere public relations exercise. Efforts to stamp out corruption cannot just focus on those who take the money.

In treating corruption and abuse of power as the country’s No. 1 enemy, we also have to acknow­ledge that we are partly responsible for sustaining this enemy.

Every time we offer a bribe, refuse to be a whistleblower or blithely dismiss corruption as “the Malaysian way”, we are strengthening the very thing that threatens to choke our nation’s development.

It is therefore fitting that Gerah incorporates the month-long 3J campaign, which the MACC launched on Monday in a partnership with Star Media Group Bhd.

The 3J name is shorthand for “Jangan Hulur, Jangan Kawtim, Jangan Settle”, which means “Don’t Give and Don’t Settle”.

It is a clever use of colloquial words that are synonymous with corruption, and there is little chance of misunderstanding the intent of the campaign.

“We hope this will pave the way for people to say no to corruption and create a society that has the courage to stand up and fight not only against corruption, but the corruptors,” said Dzulkifli at the launch.

Here is our choice: Be part of the “revolutionary movement” or do nothing and yet expect life to be better.

Source: Stay Say

Top zakat official among 11 held

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Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

GEORGE TOWN: A high-ranking Datuk from Pusat Zakat Negeri Pulau Pinang (ZPP) has been accused of misappropriating tithe money, including approving an annual scholarship for one of his children.

He is also alleged to have pocketed payments from contractors as an inducement to provide them with jobs involving ZPP community prog­rammes.

The man is among 11 people, including staff and contractors, who have been detained in a swoop by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday following an investigation that began last December.

The 50-year-old Datuk was picked up at the ZPP office in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam, at 10.40am yesterday.

Three of his co-workers, including two ZPP department heads, and seven ZPP contractors were also detained in the operation codenamed Ops Miskin.

Penang MACC director Datuk Abdul Aziz Aban said the Datuk was detained on suspicion of accepting valuable items, cash and cheques from several companies and suppliers as inducements to award certain projects or works related to the state zakat community development programmes.

He added that the Datuk, who has held the position in ZPP since 1995, was believed to have also approved the annual scholarship without going through the Penang Religious Affairs Department for approval.

“We believe the four ZPP officials have been sharing the illegal payments among themselves between 2014 and 2016.

“We have been watching them since December last year,” Abdul Aziz said during a press conference at the state MACC headquarters here yesterday.

Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

Every Muslim with a certain amount of wealth is required to give zakat or alms to the poor and needy.

Abdul Aziz said the seven contractors, aged between 41 and 52, were believed to have often received projects or tenders from ZPP with the help of the Datuk.

He declined to elaborate on the amount of money seized in the operation, saying that it would be revealed after the investigation had been completed.

Apparently, the amount collected by the suspects totalled several million ringgit.

Abdul Aziz said the 11 suspects, who were remanded for a week, would be investigated under Section 17(a) and (b), as well as Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.

“The offence carries a jail term of up to 20 years and five times the amount of bribes involved,” he added.

Earlier, the 11 were brought to the magistrate’s court here by the MACC at 3pm to be remanded.

Magistrate Mohamad Amin Shahul Hamid granted a seven-day remand, which began yesterday.

Source:  The Star by sharanpal singh randhawa, g.c. tan, sardi mahorm, logeiswary thevadass, chong kah yuan, hemananthani sivanandam, royce tan

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Working together: Dzulkifli (third from left) and Wong (centre) sharing a light moment with The Star team after launching the 3J Campaign at Menara Star.

Star teams up with MACC for 3J drive

It is an arduous task but the battle against corruption involves all Malaysians.

For that reason, Star Media Group has partnered with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for the nationwide “Jangan Hulur, Jangan Kawtim, Jangan Settle” (Don’t Give and Don’t Settle) 3J Campaign.

“The battle is neither quick nor easy. But with public support, this fight will end with us winning and our integrity intact,” said Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

The Star, he said, would be focusing on the youth as they were the “most crucial group”.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign at Menara Star yesterday, Wong cited an MACC study conducted last year among students which found that 16% of students in institutions of higher learning were willing to offer bribes.

The number was worrying as it had gone up from the 10.7% rate in 2015, he said.

To educate the next generation on values like integrity, The Star will be going all out to highlight the message of the campaign.

Other than spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook, Wong said it would be combining its media platforms such as The Star newspaper, The Star Online and StarTV as well as its Bahasa Malaysia news portal mStar and radio Suria FM.

Suria FM, which is part of the Star Media Radio Group, will broadcast the campaign message to the public via its road show team – the Suria FM Wheelers.

The month-long 3J Campaign came under the umbrella of the nationwide Gerakan Revolusi Anti-Rasuah or Gerah campaign, which was launched at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the battle against corruption and abuse of power would fail without a concerted effort.

“This is why I believe the fight should be our journey, our cause and our war together,” he said.

Dzulkifli voiced his hope for Malaysians to come together under the 3J Campaign and play an active role in battling the “cancer of corruption”.

He said the words “hulur, kawtim and settle” are synonymous with corruption and the MACC used these terms so that the people were aware of the aim of the campaign.

“We hope this will pave the way for the people to say no to corruption and to create a society that has the courage to stand up and fight not only against corruption but the corruptors too,” he said.

Dzulkifli said he made a bold promise to Malaysians earlier this year when he vowed that the MACC would make one arrest every week, but this had been delivered so far, he added.

He also commended the media for its role as “an important watchdog over corruption” and its effort in exposing such cases.

MACC – two campaigns and a swoop 

 

Ready for war: MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad (centre) and his officers pledging at their headquarters in Putrajaya to wipe out corruption.

PETALING JAYA: Two anti-corruption awareness campaigns were launched nationwide and, to show how serious the fight against corruption is, a swoop on corrupt Immigration officers was carried out too.

An aide of a chief minister, who is a Datuk, was also arrested and is expected to be charged today.

Sources said two senior immigration officers based in Complex ICQ Padang Besar, Perlis, were detained at about 11am yesterday under Ops Lavish.

The suspects, aged 35 and 37, were summoned to the Kedah Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­sion (MACC) office on suspicion of accepting bribes in relation to the approval of expatriate passes to hire skilled and professional workers. Also arrested was a 48-year-old contractor.

The contractor is believed to have abetted in the dealings since 2015 and acted as a middleman to transfer a huge sum of money into several bank accounts.

The amount involved was said to be over a million ringgit.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests.

The anti-graft officers also seized four luxury cars, a high-powered bike, a fixed deposit account with RM1mil, 13 luxury bags and 13 watches worth RM130,000.

All three suspects will be investigated under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and five times the amount of bribes involved.

It is learnt the 37-year-old suspect, while taking charge of the expatriate services division in the Putrajaya Immigration Depart­ment, carried out the dubious dealings.

He was the division head from Feb 2015 to Dec 2015 and tasked with supervising, approving and cross checking all applicants information in the data system.

Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and Dzulkifli go on a ride in the MACC FM mobile after launching the 3J Campaign at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Within the short period there, he was said to have approved 339 applications involving 18,626 applicants.

“Some applicant companies were said to be non-existent.

“Initial investigations showed the suspect took a minimum of RM1,500 per applicant from agents as an inducement to approve their applications,” said a source.

Checks also showed that the suspect’s wife had played a role in the dealings by using her registered companies to issue cheques and to transfer money.

The latest move signalled a clean up of the Immigration Department by the anti-graft body.

Thumbs up: MACC enforcement officers meeting members of the public at various public places to spread the 3J anti-corruption campaign message of ‘Jangan hulur, jangan kawtim, jangan settle’ (Don’t give and don’t settle.

In March, at least 10 immigration officers who took up to RM5,000 each to allow illegals to enter Sarawak were nabbed. Six of them were women.

Early this year, four Selangor immigration officers were rounded-up to assist in investigations into dubious applications for international passports, causing losses of over RM1mil.

In Malacca, the former special officer to Malacca Historical City Council’s mayor implicated in a corruption case was arrested at 7.30pm yesterday at the Malacca MACC office.

The 56-year-old suspect faces 11 charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Finan­cing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act and another four under the Penal Code.

On Nov 28, the officer was arrested to help with a probe over alleged corruption and money laundering.

The MACC also seized more than RM100mil from the officer, comprising cash, assets and several vehicles.

Source: The Star/ANN

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No dog until neighbours agree


 

 

IPOH: The Batu Gajah District Council (MDBG) has become the first in Perak to require dog owners to seek consent from their neighbours if they want a dog licence.

It is now running a trial on this, covering residents who want to get a pet dog for the first time.

“This is to ensure better management of the pets and to ensure there are fewer complaints from the people,” said council president Nurdiana Puaadi, adding that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council had a similar requirement which had been proven to be successful.

Nurdiana cited cases of a household keeping three dogs but only one was licensed, adding that the MDBG had received numerous complaints about dogs that barked non-stop.

“Once the neighbours give their approval, they cannot complain to us,” said Nurdiana, adding existing dog owners should also get their neighbours’ approval.

“This will also help keep stray dog problems in check,” she said.

The application form states that residents staying at terrace lots need the consent from neighbours from both sides.

Those staying in bungalows, semi-detached and cluster homes need the agreement from neighbours on both sides and at the back. Owners also need to put up a sign to show that they have a dog.

The types of dogs not allowed to be kept include Akita, American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa, Neapolitan Mastiff, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Rottweilers are allowed but owners need to produce health reports from the Veterinary Services Department for new applications. Those who have been keeping Rottweilers can renew the licence until the pet dies.

It also states that those living in bungalows, semi-detached or terrace corner lots can keep a maximum of two dogs, while residents in terrace end lots and terrace intermediate lots can only keep one.

Other stipulations include urging owners to keep their dogs clean and healthy and to ensure pets do not disturb neighbours with incessant barking.

Owners must also ensure their dogs do not roam unsupervised and must be muzzled and leashed when they are out. Dogs three years or older found without a licence can be impounded and put down.

Owners can also be fined a maximum of RM2,000 or jailed not more than a year or both if found guilty under any provisions of the Dog Licensing and Dog Breeding House By-laws.

By Ivan Loh The Star

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Childcare centre fees set to go up


Child care centre fees will likely increase by 10 per cent next year. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

Operators expect 10% hike next year

SUNGAI BULOH: The fees for childcare centres across the country are expected to increase by at least 10% next year, says the Association of Childcare Centres Selangor.

This was due to the revised minimum wage, said association president Mahanom Basri.

“The increase depends on the management of the centre. If the rent, salaries and other expenditures have gone up, it will increase by between 5% and 10%.

“It won’t be a lot, but there will definitely be an increase,” she said here yesterday.

For example, Mahanom said a 10% increase from the RM300 fee per child would result in a new fee of RM330.

Besides the minimum wage, she said childcare centre operators also had to install CCTVs for extra security.

“Quality facilities require money so I hope parents are ready to pay for them,” she added.

The Government introduced the minimum wage policy in 2013.

On July 1, the monthly minimum wage was increased from RM900 to RM1,000 for peninsular Malaysia and from RM800 to RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Mahanom, together with more than 300 childcare centre operators, attended a dialogue session with Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun yesterday.

One of the issues raised during the two-hour closed-door dialogue was the licensing fees charged by local councils.

“We have proposed to the local councils that they could treat childcare centres as community service instead of commercial business.

“By doing so, they can reduce the licensing fees,” Chew said.

She said the ministry was also looking into easing some regulations.

“We will be looking at the ratio; such as how many children should be cared by one minder without compromising on safety.

“Childcare service is important and the demand is big. Many families have both parents working so we need to have a strong childcare service,” she added.

By Nurbaiti Hamdan The Star/Asia News Network

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Penang City Council barking up wrong tree ?


Save the trees: Mohamed Idris hugging a tree as other CAP members and protesters stage a peaceful demonstration in Jalan Masjid Negeri.

GEORGE TOWN: A Penang Island City councillor has joined hands with the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and other non-governmental organisations in protesting the council’s decision to transplant 18 trees for its road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri here.

Councillor Dr Lim Mah Hui said the island’s road widening projects to ease traffic jams were a futile effort as they were not for the long term.

“We have enough evidence to show that road widening is not a permanent solution for heavy traffic.

“Instead, it will only increase the number of vehicles on the road,” he said when met during a peaceful demonstration by CAP in Jalan Masjid Negeri yesterday.

Dr Mah said besides transplanting trees, the council and state government should think of other ways such as carpooling to ease traffic.

“The public has to deal with heavy traffic during peak hours and public holidays.”

Earlier, CAP members held a demonstration to show their objection to the 1.8km road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris hugged a tree to show his disapproval.

“People and trees are being relocated and environment is being destroyed in the name of development.

“I am extremely upset that consideration is given to vehicles at the expense of trees,” he told the reporters.

Mohamed Idris said this was unacceptable and he described the decision as pure madness.

“The fast pace development in the state is destroying Penang’s natural charm.

“With the greenery being replaced by concrete, Penang will soon become an unliveable place,” he said.

He added that the people should come together to oppose this action as there was a dire need to preserve the island’s tree-lined roads.

It was reported on Feb 6 that 18 trees would be affected along the Jalan Scotland-bound stretch, starting from Lorong Batu Lanchang-Jalan Masjid Negeri junction to the Jalan Air Itam-Jalan Masjid Negeri junction in its 1.8km road widening project along Jalan Masjid Negeri.

There are 33 trees lining the left side of the road where the current two-lane roadway will be increased to three lanes to cope with the heavy traffic flow, but the council managed to reduce the amount of trees affected to 18.

The project is scheduled for completion in May next year.

–  Logeiswary Thevadassa and Reena Hod The Star/Asia News Network
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