Guan Eng corruption trial postponed pending appeal

guan-engGEORGE TOWN: The corruption case of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon was postponed after the two obtained leave from the High Court to question the constitutionality of the defence before trial as required in anti-graft laws.

The 34-day hearing was supposed to begin next week on Mar 27.

But today, Penang High Court Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail vacated the dates set for trial and set April 25 for mention.

She also rescinded her earlier order for the defence to submit their statements by March 21.

The High Court had initially rejected their motion on March 7. Today, the court allowed leave so that they could take it up in the Court of Appeal.

Lim and Phang sought to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act unconstitutional. The section of the Act requires them to submit their defence before trial.

When met by reporters outside the courtroom, lead defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo told reporters an appeal notice had been filed with the Appeals Court in Putrajaya but it was yet to be heard.

“If the appeals court allows the application, it would have an effect on how all similar cases are handled.

“In that case, it is best the appeals court decide on the case before Lim’s trial begins,” Gobind told reporters outside the courtroom.

Meanwhile,Deputy Public Prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud said he would apply to the appellate courts to hasten the hearing of the case.

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 purpose during a state exco meeting on July 18, 2014.

Lim was also alleged to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing a bungalow from 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 both charges.