KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today set aside Attorney-General (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali’s leave application to cite Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for contempt of court.
Justice Kamaludin Md Said said the AG had used an edited version of Lim’s transcript of his press conference to obtain leave last year.
“In this case, the plaintiff (AG) has failed to make full disclosure of all evidence when making the application for an ex-parte application leave order before the judge,” he said.
Kamaludin said because of the undisclosed facts, the judge who had heard the matter in 2016 had had no opportunity to analyse the facts properly.
On Jan 6, Lim had applied to the court to set aside the earlier order to cite him for contempt.
He said Lim had every right to raise the non-disclosure of facts as it may create doubt in the judge’s mind as to the intention of the AG in making such statements.
He said the AG could not pick and choose the statements which favoured him because there were other statements made in the press conference, if produced, that could take away the sting of the alleged contempt.
Kamaludin said contempt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and there must be strict compliance to make a full disclosure.
Kamaludin said he discovered that Lim was not making any remark about the judiciary but was instead talking about the investigation process of the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and prosecution by the AG.
However, the judge dismissed Lim’s argument that the leave application to cite him for the alleged contempt should have been heard in Penang.
He said the Federal Constitution and the Courts of Judicature Act allowed any judge in Malaya to punish anyone for showing disrespect to the court.
“The power can therefore be exercised by any of the branches of the High Court of Malaya,” he said.
On Sept 21, 2016, justice Hanipah Farikullah granted leave for the AG to initiate committal proceedings against Lim.
The AG claimed Lim had allegedly issued statements in the print and/or social media which were detrimental to the administration of justice, leading to erosion of the people’s confidence in the judicial system, and questioned the dignity and integrity of the courts.
Apandi said the action was taken to ensure the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary, and the justice system in the country, was always protected and not criticised, shamed and insulted according to one’s whims and fancies.
Apandi added that contempt-of-court should be frowned upon, failing which doubts could arise on the administration of justice in the country.
According to the AG, the statements made by Lim at a press conference in George Town, Penang, that the corruption charges against him (Lim) were a conspiracy and that he would be jailed, could be clearly interpreted as the courts were also being roped in on “trumped up corruption charges”.
On June 30, 2016, Lim had pleaded not guilty at the Penang High Court to corruption charges relating to the changing of status of a parcel of land from agricultural zone to housing development zone, and the purchase of a bungalow at below market price.