SUNGAI PETANI: An environmental activist has been remanded for allegedly setting fire to a plastic recycling factory in Bakar Arang here.
Kuala Muda OCPD Asst Comm Adzli Abu Shah said the 34-year-old man was arrested on Friday to assist with investigations under Section 435 of the Penal Code for arson.
“He was arrested at about 10pm at a restaurant in Taman Mutiara Indah based on a police report lodged by the owner of the factory last month,” he said yesterday.
ACP Adzli said the suspect was brought to a Magistrate’s Court yesterday to be remanded for six days.
It is learnt that the suspect is a member of an environmental NGO and also a volunteer of a security body in Sungai Petani.
In the incident on April 18, the Sungai Petani fire and rescue station received a distress call at about 4.30am.
The factory owner told reporters the next day that workers spotted two men in the factory grounds before it went up in flames.
They were believed to have entered the factory through the rear fencing which was found cut open.
The factory suffered an estimated loss of RM11mil.
The factory was alleged to have been operating illegally and polluting the vicinity, which caused certain groups to be up in arms against it.
At midnight yesterday, some 30 members of an environmental NGO and members of the voluntary security body staged a protest at the Kuala Muda district police headquarters in support of the detained man.
Also present at the protest was former Berapit assemblyman Lydia Ong, who is the pro-tem chairman of the environmental NGO.
Ong, who was accompanied by lawyers, claimed that the man’s arrest was not justified.
“The police did not even give us the reason for his arrest,” she claimed, urging the state police chief and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the case.
Ong, however, denied that the man was a member of the NGO which she heads.