Representation to AG ‘nothing to do with politics’, says Ramkarpal

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh says it is up to the new attorney-general to consider whether to drop the charges against Lim Guan Eng or accept them.

GEORGE TOWN: A representation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in relation to the ongoing bungalow graft trial involving former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng has nothing to do with politics, Lim’s counsel Ramkarpal Singh said today.

Ramkarpal said in light of the change in government, the defence had felt it necessary to file a new representation on the charges against Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Koon.

He said since day one, they had maintained their stand that the charges against Lim and Phang were politically motivated.

“We will propose that the charges be dropped. Of course, it is up to the new attorney-general to consider whether to drop the charges or accept them.

“(This representation to the attorney-general) has nothing to do with politics at all. We hope the new attorney-general will consider the new representation. It would only be proper that he or she looks at it from a fresh angle.

“Of course, if the attorney-general takes over and decides to continue with the case, we will continue with it. There is no problem,” he told reporters outside the High Court here, after justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail adjourned the proceedings to July 30.

Earlier today, the lawyers for both Lim and Phang had applied for a case adjournment pending a representation for a review of the case.

Lim, who is expected to be sworn in as finance minister at the Istana Negara today, was not present in court.

Ramkarpal said Solicitor-General Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek could consider the representation, or postpone it until the new attorney-general comes in, which is expected to be in July.

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 (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 Phang for RM2.8 million, which was below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million, on October 21, 2015.

Phang was charged with abetment. Both Lim and Phang pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Ramkarpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor MP, said Pakatan Harapan had always advocated and sought to uphold judicial independence. He added that the rule of law was of utmost importance.

On whether there was any law to prevent Lim from being sworn in as a minister when his case had yet to be cleared, Ramkarpal said no.

“A person is innocent until proven guilty. That is the basic principle. So there is nothing to preclude the former chief minister from being sworn in today. There is no hindrance and no barrier to prevent him from being sworn in,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that Lim could only be officially appointed as finance minister after he is cleared of his corruption case.

Mahathir had said the rule of law must be followed, and that the government would have to wait until Lim is cleared of the charges before he is made the minister.