Court fixes 23 days for Guan Eng, Phang’s graft trial


GEORGE TOWN: The High Court has fixed 23 days to hear the corruption case involving Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon.

Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail fixed the hearing dates from March 26 to 30, April 9 to 12, April 23 to 27, May 7 to 10 and May 21 to 25.

Deputy public prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud told the court that the prosecution would be tendering amended charges for both Lim and Phang, but would do so on another day as neither were present in court today.

He also said the prosecution would be calling up 40 witnesses when the trial commences.

Masri later told reporters that the amendments were minor ones.

Lim was represented by Gobind Singh Deo and RSN Rayer, while Phang was represented by V Sithambaram and Rueben Kumar.

On June 30, 2016, Lim was charged with using his public office 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 Phang for RM2.8 million, below the property’s market value of RM4.7 million on July 28, 2015.

Before the trial began, the prosecution requested that Lim and Phang file their defence, but they challenged the legality of Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act.

In March, Hadhariah dismissed the motion filed by Lim and Phang to declare Section 62 unconstitutional, but this was reversed by the Court of Appeal in August.

The Federal Court recently allowed the appeal by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), ruling that Lim is required to give his defence statement to the prosecution before his corruption trial begins.

A five-man bench chaired by Chief Justice Raus Sharif, however, said Lim and Phang, who is charged with abetment, would not be stopped from offering additional documents after the trial starts.

Raus said the bench disagreed with the Court of Appeal that Section 62 of the MACC Act, which requires accused persons to reveal their defence before trial begins, was unconstitutional.

He said Section 62, read together with Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code, did not violate Articles 5 (1) and 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 5 is about life and personal liberty while Article 8 (1) concerns equal protection of the law.