GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon have failed in their bid to question the constitutionality of a law which requires them to enter their defence before their corruption trial begins.
The High Court today dismissed the motion they had filed on Jan 6 to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009 as unconstitutional.
Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail in reading out her decision stated nobody had said the accused are not presumed innocent until proven guilty under the section.
She said the burden of proof continues to lie with the prosecution. There is no justification to deem Section 62 as unconstitutional and it does not contravene Articles 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, she added.
She ordered Lim and Phang to submit their statements of defence within 14 days. Lim was represented by Gobind Singh Deo and Phang by V Sithambaram.
Section 62 stipulates that once the accused is given the prosecution papers before a trial, the defence is required to give a defence statement, setting out in general terms the nature of their defence.
Hadhariah today said that Section 62 only deals with disclosure of defence and does not deprive an accused of the right to defence.
The purpose of the section, she added, is to expedite the trial and speed up procedures for graft cases. The rights of the accused to equality under the constitution is not violated, she stressed.
On June 30, Lim was charged with using his public office or position to obtain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew, by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd to convert agricultural land for residential purposes.
Lim was also alleged to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing a bungalow from businesswoman Phang for RM2.8 million, below the property’s market value of RM4.7 million on July 28, 2015.
Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty to the charges.