The untold story of Edmund Gan Eu Lee and the Sungai Lembu illegal factory

Doesn’t it go a long way to show just how desperate the Guan Eng administration is to protect Edmund? What is it about GBH that means so much to Phee, that he issued two directives to prevent MPSP from tearing the factory down? Is there something about Phee and his half-brother, Phee Boon Chong, that Malaysians are not being told about?

THE THIRD FORCE

On the 21st of August 2017, The Third Force (TTF) commenced a series of exposes that had to do with an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam. On that day, TTF made public the names of 179 villagers who petitioned against the factory amid concerns that the fumes and ash billowing from its confines were carcinogenic and soared cancer rates to unprecedented levels.

Ever since then, we have unearthed a treasure trove of documents that show just how incompetent, inconsiderate and downright sinister the Penang state administration of Lim Guan Eng is. Some of these documents have already been exposed, while others were held in vaults pending the maturity of a one week deadline issued by lawyer Shamsher Singh Thind for Guan Eng to respond.

And yet, we got nothing.

In light of this, TTF has decided to take the wraps off a complicity involving the Chief Minister of Penang and his exco, Phee Boon Poh, to conceal the environmental and health hazards the factory posed on account of the factory’s owner, Edmund Gan Eu Lee. To kick things off, TTF will address the billion-dollar question that probably is on everyone’s mind, a question that may hold clues as to why the DAP was hell-bent on releasing Phee from detention by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Who is Edmund Gan Eu Lee?

Edmund is someone you might call a big gun in the northern “black gold” (charcoal) industry and is an influential figure in the sawdust supply scene. He is the director of GBH (BM) Sdn. Bhd. – a private and limited company (see doc below) incorporated on the 14th of September 2006 – and is closely associated with timber tycoons both in the Peninsula of Malaysia and in Sabah and Sarawak.

 

Through GBH, Edmund commenced illegal operations in Kampung Sungai Lembu on a small scale with the intent of processing sawdust that came from timber and furniture related factories. The bosses of these factories conducted business with Edmund through Omega Top Trading and were well-connected with is owner, Lim Sew Hua.

With Sew Hua’s blessings, Edmund set out to establish Biowoodtech Sdn Bhd in 2012 (see doc below) and roped in 35-year old Lim Kean Aik, who happens also to be Sew Hua’s partner in Omega Top. The plan was simple – Edmund would use Biowoodtech to produce hexagonal shaped BBQ Charcoal Briquettes with sawdust supplied by Omega Top.

But the scale of production Edmund had in mind required a hefty budget just to set up a hazard-free facility. It was then decided that Biowoodtech would seek funding for the purchase of land and machinery vehicles. To convince timber tycoons that the project was viable, the company resolved to kick-start the venture with RM1 million and promised potential funders a 30 percent stake upon the injection of funds.

To lure investors, Biowoodtech presented an elaborate revenue model that came with two options – a loan of RM4 million for a 200-ton production factory with a 10-year repayment plan, or a loan of RM6 million for a 320-ton production factory with a 15-year repayment plan. But as Edmund soon discovered, the system required to accommodate his plans was far more expensive than he’d ever imagined.

Is that how Sungai Lembu came into the picture?

Yes and no.

Remember, GBH had already commenced operations in Kampung Sungai Lembu way before Biowoodtech was established. So it is not correct to say that the Sungai Lembu factory was set up to just to support Biowoodtech or any of its concerns. However, once Biowoodtech was established, Edmund had the issue of environmental pollution and standards to contend with.

The thing is, Biowoodtech was located right in the middle of a light industrial zone in Kedah. It would have been impossible for Edmund to burn sawdust on the scale he had in mind without forking out millions just to prevent toxic fumes and ash from polluting the factory’s surroundings.

Which is why, it is a little more than a coincidence that operations in Kampung Sungai Lembu began expanding rapidly in 2012, the very year Biowoodtech came into the picture. It is a well-known secret that remote villages rarely pose problems to factories that ignore environmental safety standards. Persons from such villages are rarely educated and seldom know how to go about defending their rights through proper channels.

But I’ll delve into that and the kind of activity that went on in Kampung Sungai Lembu in an upcoming article. Suffice to say, the illegal factory wasn’t just producing carbon-filters for use in water purification systems, but also processed sawdust to support the BBQ Charcoal Briquette industry.

Did Guan Eng and Phee know what was going on?

Yes.

They knew that villagers were suffering adverse health effects and wanted the factory out of their area. As a matter of fact, on the 21st of August 2017, TTF published protest letters issued by the village JKKK to Guan Eng that made note of the pollution caused by the factory. The article also bore a notice issued by GBH’s lawyers to the JKKK that demonstrated just how inconsiderate and ruthless Edmund was. But what did guan Eng have to say about this?

Not a damned thing.

Two days later, TTF made public the fact that the minutes of the 6th of May 2015 meeting the Chief Minister declassified were highly irregular and contradictory to findings by the Department of Environment (DoE). These findings were made plain in the DoE’s letter to MPSP and Penanti assemblywoman Dr. Norlela Ariffin on the 24th of April 2015.

However, instead of coming clean on the contradiction, Phee denied knowledge of the letter and told Norlela to make it public instead. That struck me as weird, considering that Phee himself explained these findings to Norlela back on the 30th of April 2015, just six days after the DoE issued the aforementioned letter.

Now doesn’t that make Phee a liar?

And doesn’t it go a long way to show just how desperate the Guan Eng administration is to protect Edmund? What is it about GBH that means so much to Phee, that he issued two directives to prevent MPSP from tearing the factory down? Is there something about Phee and his half-brother, Phee Boon Chong, that Malaysians are not being told about?

To be continued…

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