Guan Eng can’t be charged again for same offence, says DAP man

Lim Guan Eng and a businesswoman were charged and later acquitted regarding his purchase of a bungalow in Penang. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng cannot be charged again for the same offence regarding the purchase of his bungalow in 2015, as that would be unconstitutional, a DAP leader said today.

The party’s legal bureau chairman, Ramkarpal Singh, said the “double jeopardy” rule in the Federal Constitution does not allow a person to be charged a second time for the same offence.

Earlier today, de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was free to reopen investigations into the bungalow purchase if new evidence surfaced.

Ramkarpal said: “The MACC can investigate all it wants but it is barred from further pursuing a charge against Lim in respect of the said bungalow case.”

Charges against Lim and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon were dropped in September 2018 and the court granted them an acquittal. The public prosecutor did not appeal against the decision.

The MACC had then expressed shock over the decision to free Lim and Phang, saying the recommendation was made by the AG’s Chambers and did not come from the agency.

Ramkarpal said Article 7(2) of the Federal Constitution states that a person cannot be tried again for the same offence unless the conviction or acquittal has been quashed and a retrial ordered by a higher court.

“As such, even if new evidence were to emerge Lim cannot be charged again as a result of further investigations,” he said. It made “no sense” to investigate the case further.

Lim had been accused of using his public office to obtain gratification for himself and his wife by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd to convert agricultural land for residential purposes during a state executive council meeting on July 18, 2014.

He was also charged with using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing a bungalow from Phang at below its market value. Phang was charged with abetting him.