KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Former Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is set to face new charges this Friday, the Sessions Court was told today.
Having been charged thrice last month within a week, Lim is expected to be charged with two counts under Section 403 of the Penal Code — which covers the offence of dishonest misappropriation of property — in Penang, the prosecution said.
When two of Lim’s criminal cases came up for mention in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur today, deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin informed the judge: “I wish to inform that this morning, the accused has been served with a notice to notify him that there will be charges in Butterworth on September 11, under Section 403 — two charges.”
Wan Shaharuddin also said that the new case in Penang this Friday is also intended to be transferred to the court here in Kuala Lumpur, before asking for a new mention date for the two cases already in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, who is one of Lim’s defence lawyer, then confirmed having received the notification that his client would face new charges this Friday.
Gobind, however, clarified that Lim’s legal team has yet to decide if they will object to Lim’s new case this Friday being shifted to be heard in Kuala Lumpur: “But only for the record, I only wish to say whether the defence will object to the transfer of the case from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur, that will be decided on Friday because we haven’t seen the charges. Just for the record, so there’s clarity.”
Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi then fixed October 12 for the new mention date for the two cases already before her court. The two cases involved charges brought against Lim on August 7 and August 10.
The two cases now in KL
On August 7, Lim had pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur to a charge of having allegedly solicited a bribe amounting to 10 per cent of potential profits from Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli, as a reward for the proposal to help the latter’s company be appointed to carry out a project to build main roads and a tunnel in Penang.
He was accused of having committed this offence in March 2011 near The Gardens Hotel in Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur when he was Penang chief minister.
For the August 7 charge, Lim was charged under Section 16 (a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 — which covers the offence of soliciting, or receiving, or agreeing to receive for himself or anyone else, any gratification as an inducement or a reward. The penalties for this offence upon conviction are a maximum 20 years’ jail and a fine not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
On August 10, Lim was charged with having allegedly used his position as a public body officer in his role as Penang chief minister to obtain gratification for himself to the amount of RM3.3 million by allegedly helping Zafrul Ahmad’s company be appointed to carry out the RM6,341, 383,702 Undersea Tunnel and Three-Paired Roads Project in Penang where he was alleged to have an interest in.
Lim was alleged to have committed this offence between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang chief minister’s office at Level 28, Komtar in Georgetown, Penang.
This charge on August 10 was brought under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which carries the penalty of a maximum jail term of 20 years, and a fine not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The August 10 case was transferred from Penang to be heard before the same Sessions Court judge in Kuala Lumpur. Today the August 10 charge was read out again to Lim in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur, to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
A bail of RM1 million with two sureties was imposed on Lim on August 7, with the same bail amount previously extended to cover the August 10 case.
Today, Wan Shaharuddin applied to amend details in Lim’s court documents for the August 10 charge to have his ethnicity correctly listed as Chinese instead of Malay and to also have his actual age listed. The judge allowed this application.
Wan Shaharuddin also highlighted to the Sessions Court that there were two police reports on sub judice comments made by third parties or those not involved in Lim’s cases regarding his cases, presenting the police reports to the court without reading out their content.
“But I should praise the defence and YB Lim Guan Eng for not making any sub judice comments so far. I hope this will continue until this court decides on this case in the future,” he said.
Previously, the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur had ordered that no sub judice comments be made regarding Lim’s case. The rule against sub judice prohibits a case that has yet to be decided by the courts from being discussed publicly or commented on publicly.
Gobind meanwhile brought to the court’s attention that there have been situations where information was given to the media even before Lim’s legal team received such information, noting in particular previous news of the upcoming new charges this Friday.
Gobind then spoke of the need for Lim’s lawyers to respond to requests to comment in such circumstances: “We have to look at the situation, if we are advised not to make any comments, when such situations happen, we will be asked and we have to respond.”
The judge then observed that the MACC sometimes issued official statements in high profile cases or cases of public interest, noting that the source of those news reports mentioned by Gobind cannot be determined, but further said that Lim’s lawyers could give a general response.
Gobind also urged for the prosecution to inform Lim’s lawyers of developments involving him first instead of having them find out through news reports.
Wan Shaharuddin then thanked Gobind for giving his advice on the matter.
Later when met by reporters, Gobind explained both he and his client will have to respond if asked by developments in the case: “Where there’s a need to make a statement, we will make a statement because I think that’s necessary as long as it is not sub judice, it’s something that I think we are free to do.”
DAP’s Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh and Jelutong MP RSN Rayer were also among lawyers who acted for Lim today.
Among those spotted within the courtroom today to show support to Lim were his wife and son, his father and Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang, DAP chairman and Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, DAP treasurer and Bukit Bintang MP Tan Kok Wai, DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, and PKR secretary-general Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
Seats were limited in the courtroom with entry only through registration just as in other high-profile cases, in order to ensure physical distancing as part of Covid-19 precautions.
Others also present within the court compound to show support include DAP assistant treasurer and Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham, DAP international secretary and Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching and DAP’s Bukit Gasing state assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran.
Besides the two existing cases in the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur now and the upcoming charges this Friday, Lim is also facing a separate charge in the Butterworth court in Penang of having allegedly used his position as Penang chief minister then to obtain gratification of RM372,009 for his wife sometime during the 2013 to 2016 period.
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