AG withdraws appeal to cite Guan Eng for contempt of court

PUTRAJAYA: Attorney-General (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali has withdrawn his appeal to cite DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng for contempt of court.

Senior federal counsel Maisarah Juhari told a three-man Court of Appeal bench today that the AG had filed a notice of discontinuance yesterday.

“We are therefore withdrawing the appeal, and a copy was served on the respondent,” she said.

Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli, who led the bench, then struck out the appeal with no order to costs.

Lim, who is now finance minister, was represented by Mervyn Lai.

On Dec 7, the High Court allowed Lim’s application to set aside the leave obtained by the AG to cite him for contempt of court.

Justice Kamaludin Md Said said the AG had used an edited version of Lim’s press conference transcript to obtain leave.

“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 heard the matter in 2016 had had no opportunity to analyse the facts properly.

On Jan 6 last year, Lim had applied to the court to set aside the earlier order to cite him for contempt.

Kamaludin said Lim had every right to raise the non-disclosure of facts as it might 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 which, if produced, could take away the grounds of the alleged contempt.

Kamaludin said contempt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt and strict compliance adhered to in making a full disclosure.

He said he had found that Lim was not making remarks 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 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 issued statements in print and/or social media which were detrimental to the administration of justice, leading to the erosion of the people’s confidence in the judicial system. He said they questioned the dignity and integrity of the courts.

Apandi said the action was taken to ensure the sanctity and integrity of the judiciary, and 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 clearly be interpreted as the courts also being roped in on “trumped-up corruption charges”.

On June 30, 2016, Lim pleaded not guilty at the Penang High Court to corruption charges relating to the changing of status of a parcel of land from agricultural to housing development, and the purchase of a bungalow at below-market price.