Preview: High-profile court cases to look out for in 2023

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — With 2022 witnessing several high-profile court cases concluding and having verdicts handed down, there are still others remaining at various stages before the courts.

These include ongoing criminal trials involving politicians and civil cases whose development has garnered widespread public interest in Malaysia.

With 2023 mere days away, Malay Mail has compiled a list of ten high-profile court cases that is sure to hit the headlines again in the first half of next year.

January

1. Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s foreign visa acquittal appeal and Yayasan Akalbudi case

Umno president Ahmad Zahid’s trial over the alleged receiving of millions in bribes and alleged dishonest misappropriation of his charity Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds will resume on January 16 to 19.

Additional hearing dates have also been fixed for January 30 to 31, February 7 to 9, March 27 to 30, April 10 to 13, and May 15 to 18.

In this trial, Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to over RM31 million of charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money-laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges over RM21.25 million in alleged bribes.

Separately, the prosecution’s appeal against the decision of a High Court to acquit Ahmad Zahid of 40 charges of corruption in connection with the foreign visa (VLN) system has been fixed for case management on January 10.

The prosecution had filed a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal on September 26 this year against the High Court’s decision to acquit and discharge the former home minister of all the charges after ruling that the prosecution had not made out a prima facie case against him.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex December 22, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex December 22, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex December 22, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

2. Federal Court review on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC conviction, 1MDB trial and 1MDB audit report trial

Former prime minister Najib’s bid to have the Federal Court revisit its previous decision to uphold his conviction and 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine in the SRC case will be heard on January 19, 20 and 26.

Najib was previously found guilty in the High Court on July 28, 2020, over the misappropriation of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s RM42 million, and lost his appeal at the Court of Appeal on December 8, 2021, against his conviction and sentencing.

On August 23, the Federal Court upheld Najib’s conviction and 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine in the SRC case.

Based on Najib’s review application, he is seeking for the Federal Court to make several court orders, such as to either order his acquittal in the SRC case or to have his entire SRC trial to be reheard by a different High Court judge, or for his entire SRC appeal to be reheard by a new Federal Court panel of at least seven judges.

Separately, Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial at the High Court will resume on January 27 with the defence expected to continue its cross examination of the 41st prosecution witness.

In the 1MDB trial, Najib is facing 25 charges over the alleged misappropriation of more than RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds which were said to have entered his private bank accounts at AmBank.

Last but not least, the High Court has also fixed January 30 to deliver its decision on whether to call the defence or acquit Najib and former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy of abuse of power with regard to the 1MDB audit report tampering charge.

In this trial, Najib is accused of having abused his position as prime minister and finance minister between February 22 and February 26, 2016, by allegedly instructing for amendments to the 1MDB audit report — which was already ready to be presented to the PAC — before it was finally presented to the PAC.

Najib is accused of having done so to protect himself from civil or criminal action over his role in the handling of 1MDB operations.

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur August 9, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur August 9, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur August 9, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

3. Lim Guan Eng’s corruption case

Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project is expected to resume on January 17 and 18.

Further trial dates have also been fixed for February 9, 10, 13 and 15; and March 23 to 24.

Lim, the finance minister during the Pakatan Harapan administration, was charged with using his position as Penang chief minister to receive a bribe of RM3.3 million in helping a company to obtain a construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

The Bagan MP is also alleged to have solicited 10 per cent of the profit to be gained by the company in appreciation of obtaining the project.

Lim also faces two other charges of causing two plots of land worth RM208.8 million belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies claimed to be connected to the undersea tunnel project.

His trial began on July 13, 2021 at the Sessions Court and hearing is at the prosecution’s stage.

Samirah Muzaffar, accused of murdering her husband Cradle Fund chief executive Nazrin Hassan, attends her trial at the Shah Alam High Court April 7, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Samirah Muzaffar, accused of murdering her husband Cradle Fund chief executive Nazrin Hassan, attends her trial at the Shah Alam High Court April 7, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Samirah Muzaffar, accused of murdering her husband Cradle Fund chief executive Nazrin Hassan, attends her trial at the Shah Alam High Court April 7, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

4. Cradle Fund CEO’s murder acquittal appeal

The Court of Appeal has fixed January 12 for case management of the prosecution’s appeal against the acquittal of Samirah Muzaffar and two teenagers on the charge of murdering Cradle Fund chief executive Nazrin Hassan.

This is after the High Court acquitted and discharged Samirah, who is Nazrin’s widow and the two teenagers after finding that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against them in June this year.

Incumbent Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman is pictured after court the decision at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on October 28, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Incumbent Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman is pictured after court the decision at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on October 28, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Incumbent Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman is pictured after court the decision at Kuala Lumpur High Court in Kuala Lumpur on October 28, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

February

5. Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s corruption case

Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was charged at the Sessions Court in July 2021 with a count each for misappropriating more than RM1 million as well as criminal breach of trust (CBT).

He is also charged with two counts of engaging in money-laundering activities.

His trial started on June 21, 2022, at the High Court and he was called to enter his defence in October.

He will testify as the first defence witness on February 22, with trial dates also having been fixed for February 23 to 24, March 13 to 14 and April 10 to 14.

Sam Ke Ting is pictured at the Johor Baru High Court April 13, 2022. — Picture by Ben Tan
Sam Ke Ting is pictured at the Johor Baru High Court April 13, 2022. — Picture by Ben Tan

Sam Ke Ting is pictured at the Johor Baru High Court April 13, 2022. — Picture by Ben Tan

March

6. Sam Ke Ting’s conviction appeal in basikal lajak case

The Court of Appeal has set March 31 to hear clerk Sam’s appeal against her conviction, jail sentence and fine for reckless driving that killed eight teen cyclists on modified bicycles commonly known as basikal lajak about five years ago.

In October 2018, the Magistrate’s Court freed Sam without calling for her defence over the charge of reckless driving which caused the death of the teenagers.

In 2019, the High Court allowed the prosecution’s appeal and remitted the case back to the Magistrate’s Court for Sam to enter her defence on the reckless driving charge.

The Magistrate again discharged and acquitted Sam at the end of the defence case prompting the prosecution to file the second appeal to the High Court.

In April this year, the High Court allowed the prosecution’s appeal and convicted Sam of driving recklessly and sentenced her to six years in jail and RM6,000 fine.

Loh Siew Hong (centre) with her lawyers are seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 15, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Loh Siew Hong (centre) with her lawyers are seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 15, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Loh Siew Hong (centre) with her lawyers are seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 15, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

7. Loh Siew Hong’s bid to challenge kids’ unilateral conversion to Islam

In August, Loh succeeded in obtaining leave from the High Court for her judicial review against the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by her ex-husband without her consent.

The hearing for her judicial review has been fixed for March 23.

In her bid, the Hindu mother is seeking declarations that her children are Hindu and that the children are legally unfit to embrace Islam without her approval.

She is also seeking a declaration that her former husband is legally unfit to allow the Registrar of Muallaf to convert their children without her approval.

Furthermore, Loh is seeking a certiorari — Latin for quashing order — to reverse her children’s registration of conversion to Islam dated July 7, 2020 issued by the registrar.

Wife to the former prime minister Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 14, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Wife to the former prime minister Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 14, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Wife to the former prime minister Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court December 14, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

8. Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s solar bribery conviction appeal and money laundering trial

Rosmah’s bid to set aside her conviction and jail sentence in the RM1.25 billion Sarawak rural schools’ solar hybrid energy project handed down by the High Court will be heard by the Court of Appeal on June 22 and 23.

Last September, the High Court found Rosmah guilty of three charges of corruption with regard to a solar hybrid project worth RM1.25 billion for 369 rural schools in Sarawak, and sentenced her to 10 years in prison as well as a fine of RM970 million.

Separately, her money laundering and tax evasion trial have been fixed for hearing on May 12; June 28 and 30.

In this case, she is facing 12 money laundering charges, involving RM7,097,750, and five counts of failure to declare her income to the Inland Revenue Board.

Pastor Raymond Koh's wife Susanna Liew (centre) is seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 19, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Pastor Raymond Koh's wife Susanna Liew (centre) is seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 19, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Pastor Raymond Koh's wife Susanna Liew (centre) is seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 19, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

June

9. Pastor Raymond Koh’s disappearance lawsuit

The lawsuit by Pastor Raymond Koh’s wife against the police and the Malaysian government — which she had filed in her bid to find her abducted husband who has been missing for five years — will be heard June 6-8.

The lawsuit, which was initially set for hearing on December 18 at the High Court, ws deferred at the request of Koh’s wife Susanna Liew as she looked to explore the possibility of resolving the lawsuit with the government.

Koh was abducted on the morning of February 13, 2017 along Jalan SS4B/10 in Kelana Jaya, Selangor while driving in his car from his house to his workplace. His car had been surrounded by seven vehicles and about 15 masked individuals, and he has been missing since then.

On April 3, 2019, Suhakam concluded its public inquiry and found that the government's agents, namely the police’s Special Branch, had carried out the enforced disappearance of Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.

Liew’s lawsuit claims that the police and government had violated her and her husband’s rights in relation to Koh’s unlawful abduction, failure to disclose his location, alleged misfeasance in public office, alleged conspiracy to injure and alleged negligence.

In her lawsuit, Liew is seeking several court orders including an order for the police and government to determine and disclose Koh’s whereabouts.

Hearing date to be announced

Malaysian mothers and their children pose with placards and banners during the follow-up of their overseas-born children’s Malaysian citizenship in JPN Putrajaya June 10, 2022. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Malaysian mothers and their children pose with placards and banners during the follow-up of their overseas-born children’s Malaysian citizenship in JPN Putrajaya June 10, 2022. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Malaysian mothers and their children pose with placards and banners during the follow-up of their overseas-born children’s Malaysian citizenship in JPN Putrajaya June 10, 2022. — Picture by Choo Choy May

10. Family Frontiers’ lawsuit on automatic citizenship for overseas-born children

The Federal Court had on December 14 decided that Malaysian mothers will be able to proceed with their legal challenge against Malaysia’s discriminatory laws, which had deprived their overseas-born children from automatically becoming Malaysian citizens.

While no dates have been fixed for case management or hearing yet, it is expected for the appeal hearing to proceed somewhere in the later half of the year.

Previously, six Malaysian mothers and advocacy group Family Frontiers won a court order in the High Court which ruled that Malaysian mothers’ overseas-born children are entitled to Malaysian citizenship in September 2021.

However, the Malaysian government had in August this year won its appeal at the Court of Appeal via a majority decision.

Currently, the citizenship laws discriminate against Malaysian mothers, as only the overseas-born children of Malaysian fathers are entitled under the law to automatic Malaysian citizenship. The only difference for overseas-born children is whether their Malaysian parent is a father or mother.