GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will be able to give his full attention to the coming general election after the High Court here allowed his application to have his corruption trial postponed to next month.
Lim’s lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, made the application before Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail today, saying Lim would be involved in the general election process.
Gobind also said it would be difficult for Lim to attend court hearings during this period.
Deputy public prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud objected to the application, saying the Election Commission had yet to decide on the nomination and polling dates and that the trial could take place for now.
Hadhariah however said Lim, as the Penang chief minister, would be involved in the election process and it would be impossible for him to attend court.
“It is a criminal case so the accused must attend the trial,” Hadhariah said.
Lim, who was not in court, was seen entering the Residency, the official home of Penang governor Abdul Rahman Abbas, at 8.30am. He is believed to be seeking the head of state’s consent to dissolve the state assembly to pave the way for the election.
Hadhariah accepted the application by Lim’s lawyers and fixed May 10 for case management. The trial will continue on May 21.
Earlier, the trial was postponed to allow Gobind and Lim to attend the Parliament session. The current leg of the trial was supposed to continue from today to April 12.
On June 30, 2016, Lim, 58, 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 (MESB) 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 Li Koon for RM2.8 million, which was below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million, on Oct 21, 2015.
Phang was charged with abetment.
Both Lim and Phang pleaded not guilty to the charges. A total of 25 witnesses had taken the stand for the prosecution, which is expected to call 55 witnesses.
Lim is represented by Gobind, RSN Rayer and Hisyam Teh, while Phang is represented by V Sithambaram and Rueban Kumar.