Case put off to April 25 pending decision of Court of Appeal
GEORGE TOWN: The graft trial of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon has been postponed pending the appeal against the dismissal of their motion to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 “unconstitutional”.
The 34-day trial, involving 60 witnesses, was supposed to begin on Monday.
Yesterday, Lim’s defence team, led by Gobind Singh Deo, and Phang’s defence team led by Datuk V. Sithambaram, applied to appeal against the court’s decision on March 7 to dismiss the motion to declare Section 62 of the MACC Act 2009 as “unconstitutional”.
Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail allowed the applications by the defence teams and vacated the dates set for trial. She set April 25 for mention, and rescinded her earlier order for the defence to submit their statements by March 21.
On March 7, Hadhariah had dismissed the application by the defence to declare Section 62 as “unconstitutional”.
The application, filed on Jan 6, claimed that Section 62 contravened Article 5 (1) of the Federal Constitution, which reads that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law, and also Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution that reads all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law.
On June 30, Lim claimed trial to two counts of corruption.
On the first count, he was alleged to have used his position as a public servant to obtain gratification for himself and his wife by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem
Sdn Bhd to convert agricultural land into residential land, while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.
He was charged under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009, which carries a maximum 20 years’ jail and a fine up to five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, depending on which is higher.
On the second count, he was charged with using his position to buy a house at Jalan Pinhorn from Phang at RM2.8 million, which was below the market value of RM4.27 million, on July 28 last year.
The charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code carries two years’ jail, a fine or both, if convicted.
Phang claimed trial to abetment.
Gobind said he had filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of his client’s motion.
“If the Court of Appeal allows the appeal, it will affect both defence teams during the trial. It is best if the Court of Appeal hears and decides on the issue before this case proceeds,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud said the prosecution agreed with the defence’s application for a postponement and were appealing to the Court of Appeal to hear the defence’s appeal soonest.
Blogger Lim Sian See said Lim’s action of delaying the trial made no sense if he was truthful when he said he was innocent.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Sian See questioned Lim’s motive when the latter claimed he had “evidence” to clear his name.
Lim had said the evidence could not be disclosed outside of the court or he would be hit with a contempt of court order
Lim Guan Eng