GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says his new corruption trial dates may affect his plans to campaign in the coming polls as they are similar to his predicted dates for the 14th general election (GE14).
He had recently predicted that GE14 would be held in late April or early May, “before May 16”.
Yesterday the High Court fixed 23 court dates for the graft trial of Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Koon, between March 26 and May 25. Both Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty.
“Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps,” Lim told reporters today.
“I am also surprised that they have amended the charge. Why are you amending the charge?”
When asked if he was bothered by the overlapping dates, he said he would leave the matter for the people to see.
“Obviously, we are all targeted. I know I am targeted politically,” he added.
Lim was referring to amendments made to the charge on his corruption case, which prosecutors told reporters were “minor changes”.
Checks by FMT showed that the words “seorang penjawat awam” had been changed to “seorang pegawai badan awam”, with the remainder similar to the charge in 2016.
This was for his first charge related to a land-use zone change.
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, Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail dismissed a 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.