PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has postponed an appeal by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon to challenge the constitutionality of a provision of the anti corruption law which compels them to submit their defence before the start of the trial.
The appeal was deferred to July 19 so that the parties could clear up some ambiguity relating to the order given by the High Court in Penang last month.
At the outset of the proceedings yesterday, Justice Ummi Kalthum Abdul Majid, who chaired the three-man Court of Appeal Bench, had expressed her concerns over whether the order was proper.
The order did not include the directive of the High Court judge that both accused should file their defence statements within 14 days before the start of the trial.
It also did not mention a stay order which had been issued later.The two are challenging Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 on delivery of statement of defence by an accused person to the prosecution before the trial starts.
Under the provision, the accused has to submit the statement of defence and any other document which would be tendered as part of evidence for the defence.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo acting for Lim told the Bench that they would return to the High Court to rectify the matter.
Phang’s lead counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram also adopted Gobind’s stand over this.
Lim and Phang are appealing against the decision of the High Court on March 7 which declared Section 62 of the MACC Act 2009 valid and not in violation of the Federal Constitution.
Lim had on June 30, 2016 claimed trial at the George Town High Court to two charges of corrupt practices.
He was allowed bail of RM1mil pending disposal of the case.
Lim, 56, had claimed trial to using his position as a public servant to obtain gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew, by approving an application by Magnificent Emblem to convert two lots of agricultural land in the southwest district for residential purposes during a state planning committee meeting on July 18, 2014.
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.
Their cases which will be jointly heard is now set for case management in Penang on July 26, said Gobind.