Steven Thiru says taking leave Is sometimes seen as a “prudent” step to preserve the integrity of investigations.
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar today said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should take leave of absence pending a corruption investigation into the purchase of his bungalow for RM2.8 million.
Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said there was no strict legal requirement for public officials accused of corruption to do so, but that it was sometimes seen as a “prudent” step to preserve the integrity of investigations, depending on the severity of the allegations, Malay Mail Online reported.
“Investigations and stepping aside on a leave of absence pending completion of investigations should not be equated with guilt of the allegations of criminal wrongdoing,” said Thiru.
“Another critical factor is whether the public official under investigation can influence or be perceived as being in a position to interfere with the investigation.
“Here, the MACC does not report to the Chief Minister of Penang and there is no likelihood of influence or interference,” he added, referring to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
He said if MACC had begun investigations, the Malaysian Bar expected the agency to conduct the probe “fairly, impartially and thoroughly, and as expeditiously as possible”.
The MACC said last Friday that it would investigate a report against Lim over his purchase of a house in George Town, Penang, that was allegedly bought last year at below market value.
MACC had previously probed Lim’s tenancy at the same house before.
Businesswoman Phang Li Khoon signed a statutory declaration (SD) today to refute allegations of corruption concerning the sale of her former Jalan Pinhorn home to Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general.
Phang said in the SD that the sale price of RM2.8 million was decided via an oral agreement with Lim’s wife Betty Chew as far back as 2012, although the purchase was done last year.