GEORGE TOWN: The magistrate's court here today granted a five-day remand order against state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh to facilitate probe into an illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.
The remand order, which will end on Wednesday, was issued by senior deputy registrar Ameera Mastura Khamis.
The remand order was to facilitate the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) investigations under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 for abuse of power for gratification.
Ameera also granted the factory's 70-year-old manager and his 37-year-old son, the factory's director, the same five-day remand order.
Dev Kumaraendran appeared for both father and son.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Phee's lawyers Ramkarpal Singh and R.S.N. Rayer said they took issue with the court's order, describing it as " highly irregular".
Ramkarpal said they would file a revision with the High Court, under the necessary provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, to correct the court's order.
He said prior to the proceedings proper, they had raised a preliminary issue on whether the MACC's refusal to allow them to communicate with their clients was lawful or otherwise.
He said they had only submitted this morning on that issue, and it was considered by the MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Ghazali Muhamad Nadzri, who submitted otherwise.
"So, this morning's issue ventilated on whether or not we should be given the right to consult with our clients and take instructions from them. It was made very clear that the merits of the actual remand -- the period of remand -- hasn't been touched on yet. The MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor had asked for seven days.
"We had asked for this legal representation issue to be decided first as a preliminary issue before we go into the merits of it. After which, the learned senior deputy registrar adjourned the matter for 20 minutes to decide on the issue...that was what she told us.
"So, we were shocked when she came back after 20 minutes and had decided on the entire application, including the merits, and had given five days without hearing us. The point is this...our submission this morning was only centred on issue of legal representation and we did not touch on the remand.
"We made it very clear that this submission is made without prejudice to our right to submit on the merits later. So, in other words, she had decided on the merits without hearing us, which we take issue with. We are of the view that this order, therefore, is irregular and needs to be revised by the High Court judge," he said.
Ramkarpal said there was provision in the Criminal Procedure Code where they could propose for the order to be revised.
"We asked the learned senior deputy registrar to help us to file the necessary revision with the High Court judge because today is Saturday. Even that she refused. She maintained her order for remand for five days despite our objections and concerns that that order was highly irregular.
"So, we are going back now to draft the necessary letter for revision under the necessary provisions of the Criminal Prosedure Code," he added.
On Thursday, the MACC and several other government agencies raided the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu. The raid was prompted by inaction by the authorities despite countless complaints.
Besides the factory, also raided were the factory's office and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council's Licensing Department office, both in Banda Perda, Bukit Mertajam.
Earlier, Phee, along with the father and son, arrived at the courthouse here about 10.10am in three separate vehicles.
All came in orange MACC lock-up T-shirt and handcuffed separately. Phee was the first to be led in followed by the son and father.
Phee, a senior DAP lawmaker in the state, was arrested yesterday afternoon while having his statement recorded by the MACC officers at the state MACC office here.
Earlier the same morning, five MACC officers had raided Phee's office in Komtar. They left more than an hour later with a bag of documents. Sources said the documents were linked to the operations of the illegal carbon filter factory.
The MACC officers also went to Phee's house in Butterworth.The father and son were detained later in the evening also at the state MACC office here.
Present to lend support to Phee today was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, along with other state DAP and PKR leaders and their supporters.
Phee's wife, Ooi Suat Cheng, arrived when he was inside the courtroom.
His bother, Boon Chee, who had just arrived from overseas, said the family was baffled as to the charges preferred against Phee.
Meanwhile, the crowd cheered "Sokong Boon Poh" (Support Boon Poh) and "MACC Jangan Buli" (MACC don't be a bully).
They also held banners which read "Solidariti Bersama Phee Boon Poh" (Solidarity with Phee Boon Poh).