IN BLOW TO GUAN ENG, APEX COURT ORDERS PENANG CM TO SUBMIT HIS DEFENCE STATEMENT AHEAD OF ‘BUNGALOW CORRUPTION’ TRIAL

PUTRAJAYA – Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng┬ámust submit his defence statement ahead of his corruption trial, the Federal Court ruled.

Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif allowed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appeal, overturning a Court of Appeal’s landmark decision that MACC Act 2009’s Section 62 was unconstitutional.

Section 62 requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the beginning of the trial.

The five man-panel unanimously found the Act not to be in contravention of Articles 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, which enshrines the right to a fair trial.

The court ordered the case to go back to trial.

The panel, which included Court of Appeal president Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop, and Justices Ramly Ali and Azahar Mohamed, fixed Jan 10 for mention at the Penang High Court for case management.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud acted for the MACC, while lawyers Gobind Singh Deo and Datuk V. Sithambaram represented Lim.

The Court of Appeal had on Aug 17 ruled that Section 62 was unconstitutional.

This overturned the High Court’s March 7 decision to dismiss Lim’s application, on the grounds that Section 62 did not impede the accused’s right to a fair trial.

On June 30 last year, Lim pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption in relation to the conversion of land from agricultural to residential and the purchase of a plot of land and bungalow at below-market value.

Lim was charged with using his position as chief minister to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in southwest Penang to a company, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He allegedly committed the offence while chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room, Level 28, Komtar building in Penang, on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain for himself a plot of land and a bungalow located at No, 25, Jalan Pinhorn, George Town on July 28, 2015 from businesswoman Phang Li Koon for RM2.8mil, below market value.

The charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code provides for a jail term of up to two years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Phang pleaded not guilty to abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost.

She allegedly committed the offence at the same place and date.

The charge under Section 109 of the Penal Code read together with Section 165, provides for imprisonment of up to two years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

– ANN

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