KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is investigating if Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh had authorised two letters instructing a local council not to take action against an illegal factory.
English daily The Star, quoting officials from the commission, said the two letters, purportedly issued in 2015 and 2016, were at the centre of the investigation into allegations of corruption involving a carbon filter-processing factory said to have been operating in the state illegally for the past 10 years.
The letters were reported to have been addressed to the Seberang Prai Municipal Council.
Quoting a source, the newspaper reported that the letters could provide evidence on whether or not Phee had links with the factory owners.
“The illegal factory is on an agro-based land. (We want to know) why it has been able to operate without any action (taken against it),” a source was quoted saying.
Phee was arrested on Friday and will be detained for questioning for five days after the Penang Magistrate granted MACC the remand order.
The anti-graft agency had also detained two directors from the company operating the factory.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki was quoted by the paper saying that investigations will focus on elements of power abuse.
The investigation paper was opened under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 that prohibits using public office for gratification.
“We will look into whether one of the suspects has given (any form of) protection to the illegal factory to enable it to continue operating the last 10 years,” he said.
In a separate report, The Star quoted Sungai Lembu residents claiming to have been affected by the emissions from the factory, resulting in multiple deaths from cancer.
One of them, Anna Teoh, told the paper that two of her young cousins had died of cancer in 2010, which she suspected was linked to the pollution caused by the illegal factory.
The carbon filter-processing factory is 1km away from the village where SJK(C) Kampung Sungai Lembu is situated.