GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here dismissed an application by a tycoon fighting a drug case to stop the government from proceeding with its move to forfeit his assets said to be worth close to RM220 million.
However, the High Court allowed Ooi Chieng Sim, 53, a stay on the forfeiture proceedings pending his appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Ooi was initially charged, together with seven others, with trafficking but the charge was later reduced to possession.
Ooi was charged with trafficking in 4.98kg of methamphetamine at his company warehouse at No 2521 Tingkat Perusahaan 6, Prai Industrial Estate, Perai on Jan 16, 2020.
He was among eight who were charged, including a local and six Myanmar nationals in their 30s to 50s.
The charge against him and the seven others was reduced to drug possession seven months later on Aug 3, 2020, after chemists found only 2.66g of methamphetamine in the garbage bin of Ooi’s company warehouse.
According to court filings, Ooi claimed the warehouse had been leased to a Chinese national and that he was not aware of what transpired there.
He claimed he was unlawfully detained and forfeiture proceedings were initiated against him on Oct 2, 2020. He currently remains under remand under Section 4(1) of the Dangerous Drugs (Forfeiture of Property) Act 1988 or FOPA, which does not allow for any bail.
Ooi had also asked, among other things, for FOPA to be declared unconstitutional.
Today, High Court judge Radzi Abdul Hamid said FOPA was there as a deterrent and was a “good law”.
He said the court could not go beyond its powers and cross over the “wall” of parliamentary jurisdiction by making a ruling against FOPA.
Saying the applicant’s claim that there was mala fide in the property seizure must be proved at a trial, the judge ordered the asset forfeiture proceeding to continue in a lower court.
Lawyer Shafee Abdullah then asked for a stay on the forfeiture proceedings pending his client’s appeal at the Court of Appeal.
He said his client would suffer irreparable loss if the proceedings continued at the same time as the appeal, in the event the appeal was allowed.
Radzi allowed the request and ordered the proceedings to be stayed until the disposal of the appeal.
In his application, Ooi also asked the court to rule on certain aspects of the law related to his case.
Deputy public prosecutors Khairul Anuar Abdul Halim and Yazid Mustaqim Roslan appeared for the prosecution, while Wee Yeong Kang also represented Ooi.