AG gets leave on contempt bid against Penang CM

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KUALA LUMPUR: Attorney-General (AG) Mohd Apandi Ali has been granted leave by the High Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over press statements that allegedly scandalised the court.

Senior Federal Counsel Amarjit Singh confirmed the matter after case management before Justice Hanipah Farikullah.

“AG was granted ex-parte leave on Wednesday,” he said. “The press statements in the social media scandalised the courts and interfere with the administration of justice.”

The press statements were made after Lim had claimed trial to two graft charges over a bungalow purchase, Amarjit added.

Amarjit said he would file the documents in two weeks to initiate committal proceedings.

In his court filing, Apandi wants Lim to be committed to prison for allegedly insulting the integrity of the court system.

The AG said as the guardian of public interest, he had to ensure the judiciary and administration of justice were protected.

Lim reportedly said, during a press conference, that the pending corruption charges against him were a political assassination of “the worst kind” by the ruling Barisan Nasional Government.

He reportedly alleged that the charges were an attempt to overthrow him as chief minister of “the best governed state in the country”.

Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon had earlier been charged in the Sessions Court over a bungalow deal.

Lim claimed trial to two charges before Sessions Court Judge Roslan Hamid.

The first was under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act. The other was under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

Under the MACC Act, Lim was charged with using his public office or position to obtain gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew. He had allegedly approved, during a state exco meeting on July 18, 2014, an application by Magnificent Emblem to convert agricultural land for residential purposes.

If convicted he faces jail of up to 20 years and a fine five times the alleged gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

For the charge under Section 165, he is said to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing a bungalow from Phang for RM2.8 million, allegedly below the market value of RM4.7 million.

The second offence carries imprisonment of up to two years, a fine, and forfeiture of property.

Phang was charged under Section 109 of the Penal Code for abetting Lim on July 28 last year on the bungalow purchase at Jalan Pinhorn.

Phang and Lim were granted RM1 million bail each with one surety.