IPOH, July 27 — The High Court here will decide today whether Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong is guilty of raping his former Indonesian maid three years ago.
Yong was accused of committing the offence at his house in Meru Desa Park on July 7, 2019 between 8.15pm and 9.15pm.
The lawmaker has maintained his innocence throughout, insisting that the allegation was a political conspiracy against him.
During the course of his trial, Yong also resigned from DAP to turn Independent, and has now joined the fledgling Parti Bangsa Malaysia.
If judge Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed decides to convict, Yong would be liable for up to 20 years’ imprisonment and caning under Section 376 (1) of the Penal Code.
How it began
On July 8, 2019, Yong came under the spotlight after the Indonesian worker filed a police report, in which she claimed that he had raped her at his house in Meru here.
Police arrested Yong the next day and recorded his statement before releasing him on bail.
Datuk Razarudin Husain, the Perak police chief then, said statements were taken from both Yong and the Indonesian, who was 23 at the time, with medical examination also performed on both as part of the investigation.
Yong was subsequently charged before the Ipoh Sessions Court on August 23, 2019, while still the state housing, local government, public transport, non-Islamic affairs and new villages committee chairman.
Initially, Yong was represented by Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, Jelutong MP RSN Rayer, Malim Nawar assemblyman Leong Cheok Keng, and lawyer Farhan Sapian, but he later replaced them with Datuk Rajpal Singh and Salim Bashir.
Yong’s lawyers applied under Section 417 of the Criminal Procedure Code for his case to be transferred to the High Court, but this was rejected on November 26.
He then appealed to the Court of Appeal, which also dismissed the application on February 10, 2020.
Yong pursued the matter at the Federal Court before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and interrupted proceedings for several months.
On December 15, 2020, a three-man Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat allowed Yong’s final appeal to have his case transferred from the Sessions Court to the High Court in Ipoh.
Rajpal also said the defence would challenge the prosecution’s application of the Witness Protection Act for two key witnesses to testify in-camera.
On December 21, the High Court in Ipoh set nine days beginning March 30, 2021 to hear the Perak lawmaker's case.
After several postponements, Yong’s trial commenced on April 5, 2021, with the prosecution saying it would prove that Yong raped his Indonesian maid and there was no conspiracy as he alleged.
On April 6, a representative of the Indonesian Embassy told the High Court that the maid lodged a complaint via telephone alleging she was raped by Yong and that this did not have signs of coaching.
Riki Sapari, 39, a worker with the complaints section of the embassy’s labour division, said that he did not hear any voices apart from the caller.
Separately, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Jamil Aripin informed Judge Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed the prosecution would apply the WPA for two of their witnesses who were in the protection programme.
Jamil said first witness was the complainant while the second had received death threats.
Rajpal objected to this, and the judge directed the prosecution to continue while he considered the matter.
On April 7, Dr Nilawati Isha, 45, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist with Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, confirmed that the Indonesian had two fresh tears and signs of abrasions in her vagina.
The next day, the trial was postponed to June and July after the prosecution team told the High Court that three witnesses were under Covid-19 quarantine.
On June 24, the judge decided that the two main prosecution witnesses qualified under the WPA and would be allowed to testify in a closed court and be known only to him.
Abdul Wahab further ruled their identities including their names, images, addresses, or any other form of identifying information must be restricted.
A day after trial resumed on July 12, the 25-year-old Indonesian victim testified in closed court.
After her testimony, the High Court fixed the next trial dates for August 16 to 18 and September 28 to allow other witnesses to testify.
On August 18, 2021, the director of the DNA Forensic Division from the Department of Chemistry, Nor Aidora Saedon, testified that no semen stains were found on the clothing and other items collected from Yong’s house.
Prosecution team rested its case after calling 23 witnesses.
Yong told to answer charge
On December 7, 2021, the High Court ordered Yong to enter his defence on the charge of raping his former Indonesian maid, after concluding that the prosecution had proven prima facie.
The court set February 15 and 16, 2022 for Yong to enter his defence but the case was the postponed to March 16 after Yong and his wife became Covid-19 close contacts and were required to quarantine.
Taking to the stand in his own defence, Yong told the High Court that he was the victim of a political ploy.
Yong claimed the allegation against him was part of a conspiracy to bring him down as the Perak Pakatan Harapan (PH) government formed after the 14th general election only had a three-seat majority.
The state government collapsed shortly after the federal government fell in February 2020.
On March 31, the defence team rested after calling three witnesses: Yong, his wife Too Choon Looi, 46, as well as the uncle of the Indonesian maid.
High Court then fixed June 29 to deliver the verdict, before postponing it until today.