GEORGE TOWN, Aug 12 – The Penang government will not protect any of its officials found guilty of corruption, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said following state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh’s arrest yesterday.
“Our hope is that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will be fair in their investigations without taking into account if it was a person from Pakatan Harapan or Barisan Nasional,” he said.
“If Phee is wrong, we will not protect him. We will instead support any action taken against him,” he added.
“But we believe in Phee, that he did not receive any bribes and has no interest in the company involved.
“We are sure he is innocent. We are ready to cooperate, we hope it (the investigation) can be done properly, fair and square,” Lim said to reporters during a vigil outside the state MACC headquarters at Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah here last night.
Some 100 people, including Lim and other executive councillors, were present despite the rain.
Lim said Phee was a hands-on grassroots-oriented person although he was “the richest exco member” in the state.
Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.
He is being investigated as part of a multi-agency probe into a carbon filter factory in Bukit Mertajam that is alleged to have flouted environmental laws, among other issues.
The factory has been reported to be operating illegally for the past “10 to 15 years”.
Meanwhile, Phee’s lawyer RSN Rayer said a letter Phee wrote to the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) was the focal point in MACC’s investigation.
He said Phee had written a letter appealing to MPSP in his capacity as state environment committee chairman.
“I am not sure why MACC is so eager to catch him. He is being investigated under Section 23 of the MACC Act for using his position to get bribes.
“However, Phee told MACC that he has no personal interest or stake in the factory. Our explanation was accepted by MACC,” Rayer said.
Rayer also said a team of lawyers comprising him, Gobind Singh Deo and Ramkarpal Singh will argue at the magistrate’s court today for Phee’s release.
MACC officers had visited Phee’s office in Komtar at 11.30am yesterday, departing two hours later with suitcases filled with documents.
Phee was previously arrested for being part of the Voluntary Patrol Squad, or PPS, which was outlawed by the home ministry. No charges were made against him or the 160 PPS members who were rounded up and arrested while taking part in a state-level Merdeka march-past in 2014.