Guan Eng’s graft trial to start March 26

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo (right), arrives at the Penang High Court in George Town January 10, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo (right), arrives at the Penang High Court in George Town January 10, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 10 — The corruption trials of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon over his RM2.8 million purchase of a double-storey standalone house is scheduled to start from March 26 and last 23 days.

High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the hearing dates in March, April and May when the cases came up for case management today.

“This time the trial must proceed since everything else is settled,” she said when announcing the dates.

The trial was fixed on March 26 to 30, April 9 to 12, April 23 to 27, May 7 to 10 and May 21 to 25 this year.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masry Mohd Daud presented amended charges for both Lim and Phang.

“Since both accused are not in court today, the amended charges will be read to them in court on the first day of the trial,” he said.

Copies of the amended charges will also be handed to the defence counsel today, he added.

He told the court that he will be calling in 40 witnesses during the course of the trial.

“Now that I’ve set the trial dates, the prosecution should call in at least five witnesses each day during trial,” Hadhariah said.

Lawyers Gobind Singh Deo who is representing Lim, and Datuk V. Sithambaram for Phang, agreed to the trial dates.

Sithambaram had earlier told the court that he will be applying to the federal court for minutes of the oral judgement on their application to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009 as unconstitutional.

He said the federal court had ruled that Section 62 was constitutional but had also stated that the defence is in liberty to submit additional evidence in its defence during trial.

“We will submit the minutes of the oral judgement so that this trial can be heard in accordance with the judgement,” he said.

Outside the courtroom later, Masry told reporters that the amended charges were only minor changes to details of the charges that will not affect the case in any way.

“There are no changes to the sections, only a few words in the charges,” he said.

Lim and Phang were charged with graft over his house purchase deal in 2015.

Lim was charged with using his public office or position to obtain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew, by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem to convert agricultural land to residential purpose during a state planning committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

Lim is alleged to have used his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his house from Phang at RM2.8 million, which was below the property’s market value of RM4.27 million on July 28, 2015.

Phang meanwhile was charged under Section 109 of the Penal Code for abetting Lim on July 28 last year in regards to his purchase of the house on Pinhorn Road from her for RM2.8 million which was below the market value or RM4.27 million whereby Lim had allegedly committed an offence under Section 165 of the Penal Code.

Phang’s case will also be heard at the same time as Lim’s cases.

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