Guan Eng admitted to IJN, judge allows trial to proceed

(Bernama) – The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today proceeded with the corruption trial of former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng in connection with the Penang undersea tunnel project, although the accused was not in court.

Lim’s counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, informed the court that his client could not appear in court today as he had been admitted to the National Heart Institute (IJN) since Sunday.

“The accused is currently at IJN for a medical procedure which was conducted yesterday and he has been given a sick leave certificate from Sunday until tomorrow, but we have three formal witnesses today, and I request for the hearing to proceed without his presence,” said the lawyer.

Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin then asked the court to record the prosecution’s regret on the presence of the witnesses, who are from Penang.

“What is regrettable is that the accused chose to be admitted to IJN on Dec 12 knowing that (the trial of) his case is on Dec 13.

“I hope this will not happen again. I do not want to make it a big issue and request the accused to be more responsible,” he said.

Hearing of the case was fixed for yesterday, but was postponed to today.

Judge Azura Alwi allowed the trial to continue today and tomorrow without Lim’s presence by applying Section 264 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

At today’s proceedings, three prosecution witnesses were called to testify: Ng Wee Kok and S Vijayalakchimi, who are Lim’s former senior private secretaries, and former Penang state executive council secretary M Maheswari.

In their testimonies, all three confirmed several minutes of a meeting on the undersea tunnel project.

Lim is charged with using his position as then Penang chief minister to obtain a bribe of RM3.3 million for helping a company owned by Zarul Ahmad to secure the construction project worth RM6,341,383,702.

The offence was allegedly committed between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.

On the second amended charge, Lim is accused of soliciting bribes amounting to 10% of the profits from Zarul to be earned by the company as gratification for helping Zarul’s company secure the project.

The offence was allegedly committed near The Gardens Hotel, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, between 12.30am and 2am in March 2011.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, also faces two charges of causing two plots of land, worth RM208.8 million, belonging to the Penang government to be disposed of to two companies linked to the state’s undersea tunnel project.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Penang Land and Mines Office, Komtar, on Feb 17, 2015, and March 22, 2017.

The hearing continues tomorrow.