KUALA LUMPUR: The lawyer of former Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is challenging the admissibility of the statements of a key witness, which the prosecution seeks to use as evidence in his corruption trial in a Sessions court here.
On Tuesday (Nov 30), Lim’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer Asst Supt Mohd Nazri Mansor, who recorded statements of prominent developer the late Datuk Ewe Swee Kheng, did not record his statements in full.
When questioning the 15th prosecution witness on Monday (Nov 29), Gobind asked why a statement made on Aug 14 by Ewe was partly in handwriting and printed format.
ASP Mohd Nazri explained that he did not have a laptop and had to record Ewe's statement on Aug 14 manually.
"The problem is on page seven, which was typed and printed. Then there was the witness' signature down there. How do you explain this? Unless the last part of the document is fabricated," Gobind said.
ASP Mohd Nazri told the court that he had recorded Ewe’s statement four times on July 3, 8 and 9 last year and on Aug 14 this year.
Gobind argued that the Aug 14 statement contradicted the earlier statements, which purportedly "exonerated" Lim.
He said ASP Mohd Nazri's answers had shown that not everything asked and answered were recorded in the statements.
The witness had said that he knew Ewe's additional statement was different from the others made a year before, because Ewe had revealed it to him in a conversation when his statement was being recorded.
Urging the court to not allow all four statements to be admitted as evidence, Gobind said this was because Section 30(8) required every part of the statement recorded by an MACC officer to be in writing.
Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said Ewe's recorded statements with the MACC should be legally admissible as evidence as all pre-requisites have been fulfilled under the provision of Section 54 of the MACC Act.
He also said that Gobind has failed to challenge the part of the statements where Ewe had certified that he was not coerced to give the statements.
DPP Francine Cheryl Rajendram also said that Ewe's initials were on each page of the statements, meaning he had read and agreed with the contents and signed on the last page," she said.
Sessions court judge Azura Alwi will decide on Dec 13.
Lim, 60, is facing four corruption charges involving the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel and paired roads project in Penang.
For the first amended charge, the Bagan MP, who is also former finance minister, is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to corruptly receive RM3.3mil to help Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkefli’s company secure the project in Penang worth RM6,341,383,702.
The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister's Office.
For the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting 10% of profits from Zarul Ahmad to help the company be appointed for the same project.
Lim is charged with committing the offence near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City here, in March 2011, between 12.30am and 2am.
Lim is also charged with two counts of causing two lots of land worth RM208.8mil owned by the Penang state government to be disposed of by the developer linked to the undersea tunnel project.
The offences were allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office in Komtar on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.
Meanwhile, businessman Foo Jee Hai, 49, who is the 16th prosecution witness, said he was the one who introduced Ewe to Zarul Ahmad and Lee Chee Hoe, who were representatives of the Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) that was keen to help solve Penang’s traffic congestion problems.
He said he knew Ewe more than 10 years ago and had kept contact with him on business matters throughout the years.
Foo, who runs a company providing financial aid services, said he got to know both Zarul Ahmad and Lee about 10 years ago in the Parliament when he was there to meet with former Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz.
"In 2011, I contacted Datuk Zarul and Lee to introduce Datuk Ewe to them," he said, adding that the meeting took place at a hotel in Penang.
Foo said the introduction was for business purposes because he had heard from Zarul Ahmad and Lee about an infrastructure project that needed an investor in Penang.
Foo also confirmed that he signed as a witness on the request for proposal (RFP) for a project involving roads and a tunnel in Penang and that he did not receive any payment from Ewe for introducing Zarul Ahmad and Lee to him.