I’m just scratching the surface with this expose, Guan Eng. There is a lot more where these documents came from, and I don’t mind going to jail by declassifying OSA material you have yet to make public. Question is, are you and Phee willing to go to jail with me? Will you now declassify the minutes of other meetings that discussed the illegal factory issue and related matters?
THE THIRD FORCE
Yesterday, the administration of Lim Guan Eng undertook to declassify the full minutes of a 2015 meeting that discussed, among others, the legality of a factory processing carbon filters in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam. News of the factory’s existence stirred untold frenzy following revelations that the fumes and ash billowing into the open from its confines may have caused villagers who lived within proximity to die of cancer.
But what shocked – and probably hurt – Malaysians most were revelations that a state exco member issued two directives to the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP), preventing the local authority from tearing the illegal factory down. The exco in question was none other than Phee Boon Poh, who, on the 11th of August 2017, triggered a discovery by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) into his role in obstructing the course of justice.
But that’s not all.
On the 15th of August 2017, Guan Eng acknowledged that his government knew of the negative impact the factory had on villagers, before admitting that his administration ‘tied its own hands’ by adopting a policy of ‘non-interference’. Then, just yesterday, the Chief Minister told a press conference that the purpose he declassified the 6th of May 2015 minutes was to ‘prove’ that Phee had properly dealt with the issue in his capacity as the state welfare, caring society and environment exco.
“If we want to talk about environment, he has dealt with it, and the minutes revealed that the DoE officer said the factory is in compliance,” the Chief Minister said.
But the Chief Minister lied.
What he failed to highlight was point numbered 3.3 (ii), which states explicitly that the DoE would only support operations if the burning of sawdust was conducted in a closed environment. Ironically, not only did the Chief Minister fail to force the factory owner into compliance, his administration went ahead and issued two directives to MPSP, telling the local authority not to interfere in the factory’s affairs.
Guan Eng also failed to inform Malaysians of a tragedy that occurred on the 6th of May 2015. While the aforementioned meeting was in progress, a lorry driver delivering sawdust to the factory fell into one of the 31 burning pits and suffered 93 percent burns on his body. The driver succumbed to his injuries later that very day, proving that the factory was not just a health hazard, but an occupational one. The method employed by its operator was never questioned or investigated by the state administration in any capacity following the tragedy.
And yet, Guan Eng is using the minutes of that very meeting to tell Malaysians that the factory was safe, that Phee Boon Poh did what was necessary as the state exco in charge of environment. Does the Chief Minister even know what the word ‘safety’ entails? How could he have dishonoured the family of the deceased lorry driver by pretending that the accident never took place?
And how could Guan Eng forget to make mention of the letter the DoE issued to MPSP on the 24th of April 2015 (below)? Does the existence of such a letter not bring to question the validity of point numbered 3.3 (i) contained within the meeting minutes (above)?
In the letter, the DoE stated explicitly that the factory lacked proper facilities to control the release of fumes into the open from pits of burning sawdust. Yet, not only are we told a different story, Phee Boon Poh went ahead and told MPSP not to tear the factory down.
Yes, there is a ton of things both Guan Eng and Phee kept secret from you.
For instance, on the 10th of September 2015, MPSP wrote a letter to Dr. Norlela Ariffin, informing the Penanti state assemblywoman of its decision to tear the factory down pursuant to a notice issued a week after the 6th of May 2015 meeting, the very meeting Guan Eng declassified the minutes of.
As a matter of fact, the Chief Minister acknowledged the notice in his reply to Norlela during a 2016 state legislative assembly sitting.
In his reply (above), Guan Eng also acknowledged that the local authority had issued two notices asking the owner of the factory to cease operations – one on the 24th of June 2016, and the other, on the 18th of October 2016. Will the Chief Minister be kind enough to show us these notices?
Seriously, what kind of game is this Guan Eng fellow playing? Is he not aware that the incidence of cancer in the affected village far surpasses the national average by a factor of 23 times? Has he forgotten that the state assembly was presented the names of those who suffered from cancer, the types of cancers involved, and the age breakdown of sufferers?
I’m just scratching the surface with this expose, Guan Eng. There is a lot more where all these documents came from, and I don’t mind going to jail by declassifying OSA material. Question is, are you and Phee willing to go to jail with me? Will you now declassify the minutes of other meetings that discussed the illegal factory issue and related matters?
The ball is in your court, Mr. Lim.
To be continued…