Questions over sale: Lim’s bungalow in Pinhorn Road in Penang.
GEORGE TOWN: The trial date for the graft case involving the Penang Chief Minister and a businesswoman has been adjourned, pending a decision on whether there is any violation of the Federal Constitution.
Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail said the trial could not begin until the Court of Appeal ruled on whether Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act violated the Constitution.
“The trial will be suspended pending that decision and all earlier trial dates will be vacated,” she said when the case came up for case management yesterday.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo had filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal after his application to a High Court to have Section 62 of the MACC Act declared unconstitutional was dismissed.
DPP Masri Mohd Daud said the Attorney-General’s Chambers would file an application to the Court of Appeal to expedite the hearing.
Justice Hadhariah then fixed April 25 for mention pending the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
Last June 30, 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 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 businesswoman Phang Li Koon at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28 2015.
The offence is punishable by up to 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 Lim and Phang had pleaded not guilty.
Their cases were supposed to be jointly heard between March and July with the trial set to start on March 27.