Guan Eng claims new charges were timed to smear his name, run-up to Sabah polls

(MMO) – DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today claimed the two fresh charges against him were timed to smear his name in the run-up to the Sabah polls and upcoming general elections.

The former Penang chief minister said the charges were “perfectly timed” just a day before the Sabah polls nominations.

“Whether this is an attempt to affect our preparations for the elections in Sabah, or is an act of political vengeance, or to divert attention from the many controversies or scandals of the current unelected government, is open to public speculation,” he said in a press conference at his Bagan service centre after he claimed trial to two charges of misappropriation of state lands at the Butterworth Sessions Court here.

Lim said the two additional charges against him today were baseless, politically motivated and an abuse of power by the government to smear and tarnish his reputation.

“I will prove my innocence in court, particularly when no gratification or corruption money was found in either my personal bank account or in my possession in cash,” he said.

He claimed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had been used or misused to conduct this “political witch hunt” against him “based on flimsy evidence”.

The former finance minister said the two new charges today are related to the RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three highways project awarded to Consortium Zenith Beijing Urban Construction Group (CZBUCG) in 2013.

“CZBUCG was awarded the contract by open tender from the state tender committee, headed by the Penang state secretary and comprising senior government officers as members,”

“Even though I am not a member of the state tender committee, I am still charged in line with the current thinking of semua salah Lim Guan Eng,” he said.

He denied involvement in the transfers of the two pieces of lands in question, insisting that the process was conducted by the land and mines department and through the state exco.

“It was a transparent process, not done by me alone,” he said.

He claimed there were four contradictions in the charges against him, the first of which was that no corruption money was discovered in his possession.

He pointed out the undersea tunnel project was awarded by open tender while decisions were many by state government officials, the state exco and relevant specialised technical committees and not him alone.

“How can there be corruption or abuse of power when payments made to CZBUCG must be approved by Penang state government officials after getting consent from an independent professional engineering consulting firm appointed by open tender,” he asked.

He also pointed out that CZBUCG had in 2019 publicly denied bribing any Penang state government officers and that MACC had cleared the company and its chairman of any bribery or corrupt acts.

Earlier today, Lim was slapped with two charges of misappropriating state government lands worth a total to RM208,755,080 to Ewein Zenith Sdn Bhd and Zenith Urban Development Sdn Bhd.

He claimed trial to committing the offence on two separate occasions first on February 17 in 2015 and the second on March 22 in 2017.

The charges today were in addition to the three separate counts of graft he faced at both the Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth Sessions Court last month.

He was charged with soliciting a bribe related to the undersea tunnel project under Section 16 (a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on August 7.

He was then charged with abuse of power to obtain gratification of RM3.3 million in relation to the undersea tunnel under Section 23(1) of the same act at the Butterworth Sessions Court on August 10.

This charge was also transferred to the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

Lim faced another charge of using his position as the Penang Chief Minister to obtain gratification of RM372,009.00 for his wife, Betty Chew, while businesswoman Phang Li Koon was charged with abetting him.

Chew was charged with three counts of receiving proceeds from an unlawful activity totaling RM372,009 under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).

The mention date for this charge, along with the charges against Chew and Phang, will be heard at the Butterworth Sessions Court on October 14 while the mention of the cases to be heard in Kuala Lumpur is on October 12.