Guan Eng's graft trial postponed to March 15

GEORGE TOWN: The corruption trial involving Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) and businesswoman Phang Li Koon has been postponed to March 15 next year.

The new date for case management was fixed by the High Court as it cannot proceed with the case until the Federal Court decides on an appeal against a Court of Appeal decision that Lim need not file his defence.

"The case cannot proceed without the Federal Court's decision on the prosecution's appeal," Datuk V. Sithambaram, who is representing Phang, told reporters outside the court on Tuesday.

The Court of Appeal ruled in August that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, which requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before commencement of a trial, is unconstitutional.

The ruling was made following appeals by Lim and Phang to declare Section 62 of the said law ultra vires in view of Articles 5(1) and 8 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except in accordance with the law while Article 8(1) emphasises equal protection before the law.

The prosecution is appealing the decision.

Lim was charged on June 30, 2016, 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.

He faces another charge of allegedly 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.

Phang is charged with abetting Lim.