‘I’m now treated like a criminal,’ says PKR rep who lodged complaints against Penang factory
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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Penang assemblyman Norlela Ariffin claims she is being given the pariah treatment by Pakatan Harapan supporters after DAP state councillor Phee Boon Poh’s detention in an anti-corruption investigation.
The PKR state lawmaker was the first to lodge complaints to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against an illegal factory operating in Kampung Sungai Lembu that has been linked to the probe against Phee.
Norlela is incensed by claims that she played a role in Phee’s arrest yesterday, saying the MACC’s actions were beyond her control.
“People are saying why did you not wait until after the 14th general election to complain, I have been raising this issue since 2015, while the factory has been operating illegally for 10 years.
“It is really sad that I am now being treated like a criminal, public enemy number one,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
Norlela said she has been consistently speaking out on issues affecting her rural constituency from long ago, and illegal factories operating in the state was one such problem that had not been given sufficient attention.
“I just complained about the factory, I want it to be operated properly, but what they do is beyond my control. I am just doing my job,” she said, referring to the MACC’s raids and subsequent arrests on the case.
Norlela also said that the PKR leadership was fully aware of her complaints about the factory and issues affecting her Penanti constituency as she had raised the matter with the party before telling the authorities and taking it to the state legislative assembly.
“They knows my concerns. And as a legislator, we should be independent of politics. If I don’t raise this, I am letting down my constituents who voted for me,” she said.
Norlela claimed to have raised the issue of the carbon filter processing factory more than two years ago during the state legislative assembly sitting, and had lodged reports with authorities over the matter, without seeing any action taken then.
The lawmaker made headlines in November 2015, when she was reported to have broken down in tears out of frustration at the purported lack of action; she even accused the DAP-led state government of failing to respond to her queries.
Recollecting the incident, Norlela said she had been waiting for the state government to reply to issues she had raised in the assembly for her Penanti constituents.
She noted that there were considerable problems in her mainland seat that included a lack of infrastructure for roads, illegal factories, lack of proper jetties for fishermen and infrastructure for homestay programmes.
The MACC arrested Phee who is in charge of the state committee on environment, welfare and a caring society as well as the Kampung Sungai Lembu factory manager, 70, and his son, 37 yesterday.
The trio are to be remanded for five days pending the MACC’s investigation into the factory that has been operating on agricultural land without a licence for 10 years.
The MACC along with the Department of Environment and Immigration Department raided the factory and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council last Thursday.