Penang state executive councillor Dr Afif Bahardin has dismissed claims that the cancer rate in Sungai Lembu, which came into the limelight over the illegal carbon filtering company controversy recently, is higher than the national average.

Afif, who is in charge of the state health portfolio, cited a 2015 report from the state health department saying there was no correlation between the cancer patients and the factory.

According to the report, none of the cancer patients from Sungai Lembu worked at the factory, nor was the premises situated on the route used by the villagers, said Afif.

“The health department stated very clearly that it cannot be ascertained that the factory contributed to the cancer risk.

“Doesn’t the BN propaganda team trust its own government doctors?” Afif told Malaysiakini when contacted.

“The BN’s propaganda team assertion that the cancer rate in Sungai Lembu is higher than the national average is simply not true. We just don’t do medical calculation like that,” added the PKR Seberang Jaya assemblyman.

BN had slammed the Penang government for not acting against the illegal factory, citing reports that claimed 11 out of 500 people in the village had cancer.

This showed that the cancer incidence rate of 2,200 victims in 100,000 were 2,342 percent higher than the national average, alleged BN.

The factory, which has operated since 2002, was raided by the MACC on April 10.

The following day, state executive councillor on environment, welfare and caring society, Phee Boon Poh and two of the factory owners were arrested and remanded for three days.

Phee was arrested for issuing letters to the local council to halt action against the factory based on a state policy to legitimise illegal businesses, premises and places of worship. He also denied benefiting from the factory, saying that there is an “evil conspiracy” to tarnish his reputation.

Meanwhile, Afif also cited details from the report that said the district health office had received a list of 12 cancer patients from the village.

The report further noted that most of the patients were aged above 50, making them vulnerable to types of cancer that occurs with age, said Afif.

MEANWHILE, according to Umno-owned The New Straits Times:

Norlela questions information left out by Guan Eng on Sg Lembu illegal factory

GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin today questioned the state government on why it left out much information on the Sungai Lembu illegal factory.

In a Facebook posting, Norlela said her name was mentioned as if she had done wrong for questioning the DAP-led state government.

This was during the oral question sessions at the State Legislative Assembly sitting on May 2017, and at the District Action Meeting 2017, after receiving an 18-page petition signed by 168 residents of Sungai Lembu.

“An elected representative’s duty is to question on behalf of the people and I have raised all complaints for my constituents including one about a legal factory in Seberang Perai Tengah which the residents complained was emitting a foul odour,” she said in her post.

MACC and several other agencies raided the factory after numerous complaints from nearby residents on the pollution caused by the smoke fumes emitted from the 31 open sawdust burning pits at the site.

On Tuesday, the state government released a Seberang Perai Municipal Council’s (MPSP) meeting minutes dated May 6, 2015 in an effort to show that the state government had taken action against the illegal factory in Sungai Lembu.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was reported as saying that the meeting minutes was disclosed to show that state Environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh had performed his duty as the executive councillor for the environment.

The minutes had revealed that the Department of Environment (DoE) had found no pollution at the factory, as it had barriers which prevented smoke and dust from escaping.

However, it also stated that DoE would only support the operation of the factory if it carried out the sawdust burning in an enclosed area using safety equipment.

Yesterday, in a press conference in Komtar Lim and Phee gave out the meeting minutes again stressing on DoE’s comments.

Norlela said she was present in the meeting two years ago.

“Ask everyone in the meeting whether I had condoned or fought and objected to the state executive councillor’s (Phee) request to give a three year extension to the illegal factory that has been operating for 10 years,” she said.

She said the meeting chairman, who was the MPSP secretary, had made the decision to compound and take the factory to court. This should have also been mentioned in the press conference.

“Why did they not show DoE’s letter signed by the director which was issued after investigation on the factory and sent to MPSP and me”

“Why did MPSP send a notice informing me that the factory would be demolished based on the letter by DoE even after the meeting?

“Why was the state DoE director not in the press conference today and yesterday to answer why DoE sealed up the factory if it was not dangerous and polluting the environment?,” she asked.

– M’kini