GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin has been appointed to replace Dr Afif Bahardin as the state executive councillor.
This was announced by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow during a press conference at his office in Komtar today.
Dr Norlela is the first female in PKR to hold the state executive councillor’s post.
Chow said Norlela’s name was the only one given by the state PKR to fill the post left by Dr Afif.
“As such, I want to announce that Norlela will be appointed to replace Dr Afif.
“She will hold the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health portfolio,” he said.
Chow said Norlela’s swearing-in ceremony would be held on March 12 at Seri Mutiara here.
On March 4, Dr Afif submitted his resignation as a state executive councillor.
He had said that he had done so after accepting views and advice from Chow.
Dr Afif had also admitted to being pressured by various quarters to relinquish his post.
When contacted by the New Straits Times this afternoon, Norlela expressed surprise over the appointment.
“This is totally unexpected, unplanned. I didn’t know that I would be appointed.
“During the state PKR leadership meeting on Friday, nothing was raised on this issue.
“Nevertheless, I thank everyone for the opportunity and trust placed upon me to assume the state executive councillor’s post,” she said.
She said she had spoken to Chow briefly prior to the announcement.
Norlela said the components of her portfolio were no stranger to her.
“In terms of agriculture and agro-based industry and rural development, I have been working with the various target groups in my capacity as the assemblyman.
“Also, I have been working with the Health Ministry on numerous occasions in the past, from food testing to methadone.
“So I am prepared to assume my new responsibility and will perform to the best of my ability,” she added.
Norlela, 57, a two-term assemblyman, previously worked as the senior principal analyst in the Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) under the Prime Minister’s Department.
She worked there from the time Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister until Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over.
She was also previously the vice-president of a public listed company.
Norlela is quite a figure in the state.
Back in November 2015, she broke down in tears at the state assembly sitting after claiming that the Penang government had failed to respond to her queries.
She had lamented that she had been waiting for the winding-up speeches for two years for replies to the issues she had raised regarding the woes that include infrastructure for homestay programmes, lack of infrastructure like roads, frequent flooding, illegal factories, as well as the lack of proper jetties for fishermen.
In August 2017, Norlela took to Facebook to vent her frustration over the treatment she received following the expose on the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu.
In her posting, Norlela had lamented how Pakatan Harapan supporters had accused her of being a 'Barisan Nasional mole' over the issue.
She had told the NST then that she would be quitting from politics after losing confidence in her party, PKR.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and several others agencies raided the carbon filter processing factory on Aug 10.
This was followed by other raids at the Seberang Prai Municipal Council's licensing department, state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh's office in Komtar as well as service centre and houses on mainland Penang.
Phee was subsequently nabbed to assist in investigations.