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Phee was only doing his job, says Guan Eng

 | August 12, 2017

Penang CM Lim Guan Eng says letter from state exco Phee Boon Poh was only fulfilling state policy to 'legalise' illegal buildings, hawkers set up before 2008.

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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government believes that state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh is innocent as he was merely carrying out a state policy to legalise illegal businesses set-up before 2008.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in the case of a carbon filter factory in Bukit Mertajam, which was alleged to be illegal, Phee had merely played a role in “amicably resolving” the issue.

Phee was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday for abuse of power and bribery over a letter he wrote to delay enforcement on the factory which was said to be illegal. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Phee is in charge of the state welfare, caring society and environment portfolio. He was ordered to be remanded for five days by the Magistrate’s Court this morning, together with two factory bosses, aged 37 and 70 respectively.

Lim said it was highly unlikely that Phee had received bribes, as he was “the richest exco member” in the state. Phee, like all exco members, had declared his assets to the state government.

Phee, 66, is also state assemblyman for Sungai Puyu.

Giving the background to the case, Lim said when the opposition swept into power in 2008, all buildings, hawkers and temples built and set-up illegally when Barisan Nasional ruled the state had to go through a “pemutihan” process, or legalisation.

“As long as the illegal structures did not affect traffic and the people around the area, the state government was willing to help legalise them,” Lim said, adding that there was no time limit imposed on this process.

“The factory in question has been in existence for more than 10 years, and it is sitting on its own land.

“We usually take mitigating steps to get rid of these problems. As for illegal structures after 2008, we try to prevent them from growing wild like mushrooms,” Lim told reporters outside the Magistrate’s Court here.

He added however, that he could not confirm if the carbon filter factory was operating without a licence as alleged.

When asked about what Phee had written in support of the carbon filter factory, Lim said it was just a standard state government letter that aimed at reaching an amicable resolution to the matter at hand.

“He (Phee) had basically said in the meantime, while this is being discussed, to hold on any action first,” Lim said on the letter which was addressed to the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP), the local authority where the factory is located.

On Thursday, MACC led a multi-agency sting on the factory in Bukit Mertajam, which was found to have flouted many federal regulations.

The Department of Environment (DOE) found the factory did not have a proper air pollution control system.

The factory was also allegedly operating illegally on agricultural land in Sungai Lembu.

The MACC, immigration department, DOE and the Inland Revenue Board jointly conducted the operation.

Besides the factory, the MPSP licensing department was also raided by the MACC, with the anti-graft agency seizing a large pile of documents.

Penang exco man arrives at MACC office for questioning

MACC arrests Penang exco while giving statement


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