Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (centre) speaks to reporters outside the Magistrate’s court in George Town. Pic by MIKAIL ONG.

GEORGE TOWN: State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh had written letters, seeking for action against the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu to be put on hold, pending discussions.

This was revealed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Guan Eng however did not reveal the full content of the letter as he was not at liberty to do so since it was subject to on going investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

“If I say you shouldn't tear down this temple first, while we discuss this, is that corruption? That is what we want to know. If that is the case, then it is not only in Penang. It is everywhere.

"And you go after a state executive council member who is trying to implement the state government's policy, where we try to find a win-win situation. The cut off point is before 2008, because these are the issues we inherited.

“If say, not tearing down of illegal temples or hawkers, you can be hauled in, is that the new standard operating procedure now ? That is what we want to know," he said when met outside the Penang court house here to lend his support to Phee yesterday.

Phee was arrested MACC two days ago to facilitate investigations into the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu.

It was learnt the arrest was made in connection to the letters he had written to postpone enforcement action against the illegal factory.

The MACC and other government agencies raided the illegal factory on Thursday after repeated complaints lodged to the authorities fell on deaf ears. Even Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin had raised this matter numerous times at the state legislative assembly sittings previously.

Lim said that the illegal carbon filter factory in Sungai Lembu had been operating for more than 10 years and acknowledged there were complaints about it.

"There are all these allegations, and as the state executive council member, he (Phee) has been dealing with it. And in the process of him dealing with it, even the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (is dealing with it). So, letters alone, is that corruption?

"The factory was built on private land and not state government's land. Of course, it is approved by Phee as a member of the state executive council member as this was built before 2008.

Lim explained that the Penang government had decided, when it assumed power in 2008, not to take action against any illegal structures, which included buildings, places of worships as well as eateries, built before that year unless they posed a problem to the public and the traffic.

"We have decided that all illegal structures, including factories, will not be touched until we find an amicable solution. We did not set a timeframe to reach the amicable solution to ensure a win-win situation for all.

"But the Penang government has taken numerous mitigation measures to minimise the negative effects, if any," he said, adding that actions were taken against any illegal structures built after 2008, depending on the situation.

Lim also said that his administration does not believe that Phee had received anything in return (for the letters) and that he had no personal interest in the illegal carbon filter factory.

"Everyone knows that Phee is a rich man even before he joins the state administration. It was inherited from his family business

"He is just carrying out his duties as the state executive council member. We believe and trust in him," he added.

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