A political critic has reproved Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for deploying delay tactics to drag his corruption trial until after the next general election (GE14).
Aziz Safar said the appeal by Guan Eng questioning the validity and constitutionality of Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 was merely to delay the trial to ensure he would be the “opposition general” during GE14.
If Guan Eng was really innocent as he claimed to be, Azizi said the Penang chief minister should fast track the trial, without any disruptive applications and appeals to initiate as many trials-within-trials, to prove that he was not guilty for any corrupt act.
Azizi said Guan Eng perhaps was afraid of the 13,000 pages of evidence readied by MACC for the trial.
“If Guan Eng was not guilty, why he can’t just stand the trial and prove it?
“Why he is deploying delay tactic to drag the case?
“Why can’t he just fast track the court process to come clean on the graft case?” asked Azizi in a Facebook posting today.
He was commenting on the postponement of the corruption trial of Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Koon by Penang High Court in George Town today`.
Judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail allowed an application for a stay filed by defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo pending the duo’s appeal at Court of Appeal to declare Section 62 as invalid and in violation of the Federal Constitution.
The judge has postponed all hearing dates for the graft trial scheduled on between March 27 and July 21, this year until the end of the defence appeal process.
“This delaying tactic is to ensure that Guan Eng would not be disqualified from being the DAP secretary-general and contesting in GE14.
“Guan Eng wants to remain as Penang CM as long as possible until the court eventually found him guilty, probably before GE15.
“Guan Eng wants to make sure he was in the frontline of the DAP and Pakatan Harapan election campaign,” said Azizi.
The DAP-led Penang government has recently agreed with the House Speaker to fix the official opening of the assembly sitting, the first this year, on May 19, which was originally a trial date for his corruption case.
“No wonder Guan Eng could fix May 19 even though it was a hearing date. He has already planned to postpone his trial dates,” said Azizi.
On March 7, Judge Hadhariah dismissed an application by Guan Eng and Phang to declare Section 62 as invalid and in violation of the Federal Constitution.
The judge said then Section 62 “does not impede the accused’s rights to a fair trial and that the burden still lied on the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.”
Section 62 requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.
Judge Hadhariah then ordered Lim and Phang to file their defence in two weeks’ time and set March 20, today, for case management.
She set hearing of the corruption charges against Lim and Phang to start on March 27 as fixed by the court previously.
On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.
The offence under Section 23 of the MACC Act carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Phang at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015.
The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.
Phang, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.
Both the accused have pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.