GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon will have to file their defence on corruption charges within two weeks after their application to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act as unconstitutional was dismissed by the High Court.
Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail said the section did not impede the rights of the accused to a fair trial even though it states that the defence statement and documents to be tendered as evidence in a trial must be delivered before the trial starts.
In her ruling yesterday, she said Section 62 of the MACC Act was constitutional and valid and did not infringe on Article 5(1) and Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.
“The burden of proof remains on the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
“Section 62 only asks that the accused disclose their defence before the trial starts. The purpose is to expedite the trial,” she said yesterday.
She gave the order for the defence to be filed by both accused by March 21, ahead of the corruption trial, which was set to start on March 27.
The court also fixed March 20 for the case management of the defence counsels’ application to appeal against the decision on Section 62.
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 Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty. Their cases would be jointly heard between March and July.