Lim Guan Eng has pleaded not guilty to a charge of using his position as then chief minister of Penang to solicit a RM3.3 million bribe related to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.
The former finance minister was accused of assisting the company owned by Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli to be appointed to conduct the construction of main roads for the undersea tunnel project.
He was alleged to have committed the offence between January 2011 and August 2017 at the Chief Minister’s office in Komtar.
The charge under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, was represented by fellow DAP members Ramkarpal Singh and Gobind Singh Deo, RSN Rayer and V Vemal Arasan.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Ahmad Akram Gharib, Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar and Francine Cheryl Rajendram prosecuted the case before the Special Sessions Court for Corruption Judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid.
Lim is expected to be charged on Tuesday (Aug 11) for “other cases” at the Butterworth Court.
His wife, Betty Chew is also expected to be charged on the same day believed to be over a land conversion deal and the purchase of a bungalow below market price.
7.36am: The crowd of media members starts building up around the entrance of the Butterworth Courthouse as they wait to see who is allowed to enter.
7:39am: Members of the Light Strike Force (LSF) arrive.
7:40am: Some 50 members of the press have arrived at the court premises, but none is allowed to enter the courthouse yet. There is heavy presence of police at the scene, with a police mobile station deployed outside the courthouse.
8am: Police briefing the press say that only 10 personnel will be allowed into the courthouse – four upstairs and six within the compound. There are over 50 pressmen currently waiting at the gate. The 10 are allowed in.
8:04am: Some DAP supporters arrive.
8:05am: North Seberang Perai OCPD Asst Comm Noorzainy Mohd Noor speaks to the media and allows more media members to attend: 20 within the courthouse premises and eight upstairs in the courtroom.
8:10am: Former state executive councillors Datuk Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim and Lim Hock Seng, and Jawi assemblyman Jason H’ng Mooi Lye arrive at courthouse.
8:18am: Media personnel entering the courthouse premises undergo temperature tests and check-in as part of Covid-19 precautions. The media members allowed to enter the Butterworth court building wait in the lobby area.
8:19am: Bagan Dalam assemblyman M Satees and Bagan Jermal assemblyman Soon Lip Chee arrive.
8:25am: Police start putting up a barricade to control traffic flow into the courthouse.
8.32am: Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh arrives at the courthouse.
8:38am: Deputy Public Prosecutors Ahmad Akram Gharib, Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar and Francine Cheryl Rajendram take their place in the courtroom.
8:42am: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy arrives at the courthouse.
8:47am: Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Deputy Chief Minister 1 Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman arrive.
8.50am: Lim Guan Eng arrives in a SUV accompanied by MACC officers. Around 50 supporters gathered outside the court show solidarity with Lim. They hold up “Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng” placards and chant “Free Guan Eng”.
A commotion breaks out when an unknown man starts shouting abuse at Lim for allegedly stealing from Penang folk. Police then escorts the man away.
8:57am: Lim Guan Eng sits in the dock. His lawyers, Ramkarpal Singh, Gobind Singh Deo and RSN Rayer join him in the courtroom. Also seen are Lim’s father and DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, mother Neo Yoke Tee, wife Betty Chew, son Marcus Lim and sister Lim Hui Ying.
9:09am: Judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid enters the courtroom. Proceedings begin.
9:13am: Lim Guan Eng pleads not guilty to soliciting a RM3.3 million bribe related to the RM6.3 billion Penang undersea tunnel project.
9.15am: The crowd outside the courthouse, which includes Lim Guan Eng supporters and media personnel, is building up.
9:20am: Police seize a drone seen hovering outside the courthouse.
9:20am: DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib asks that the bail for Lim Guan Eng’s charge last week – RM1 million in two sureties, with RM500,000 paid on Aug 7 and the balance today (Aug 10), as well as the order for Lim to surrender his passport to the court in Kuala Lumpur – for his charge last week under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 be retained for this charge as well.
9:25am: The drone pilot, Sin Chew Daily senior journalist Ang Tong Kai, is taken to the police station to have his statement recorded for flying a drone outside the court without permission.
The drone was spotted by police officers at around 9am and they traced the landing point to a commercial area car park next to the court.
They stopped Ang from operating the drone and instructed him to open his car booth for inspection and checked the drone flight controller.
The reporter explained that he was merely carrying his duty to capture photos.
9.25am: DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib requests judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid to transfer the case to Kuala Lumpur for it to be heard together with the earlier Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act 2009 charge on Aug 7 as both charges are in consequence and related to each other.
DPP Ahmad Akram says that transporting the evidence, mostly in document form, from Putrajaya would not be logistically feasible as well as for the safety of the documents. He also says Lim Guan Eng’s role as a Member of Parliament would require him to be present at Dewan Rakyat sittings.
Counsel Gobind Singh Deo objects to the request and says there are no details where and when the transactions totalling RM3.3 million were made. Gobind says the reason given was just that the documents would need to be transported back and forth.
Gobind also says the charge against Lim was vague as the alleged offence was said to have taken place between 2011 and 2017 without specific details given.
Judge Ahmad Azhari agrees for the case to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur.
9.40am: A heated argument ensues after DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib requests for an application for the court to give an order for stopping anyone from making comments on the trial before it begins, which amounts to sub judice.
Counsel Gobind Singh Deo objects, saying this was raised in court on Aug 7 and Judge Azura Alwi had denied the application.
He also says this would be unfair as the case was of public interest.
Akram had referred to a report by The Malaysian Insight quoting Damansara MP Tony Pua in comments deemed contemptuous of court proceedings.
He also cited a Facebook Live video posted by Pua in which he commented on the merits of the case.
However, Gobind asks why Akram had not raised the matter when “other parties” commented on Lim’s earlier corruption charge last Friday.
He says newsmen raise questions and people have the right to defend Lim. Gobind adds that the press need to do their job while they (lawyers and DAP lawmakers) need to do theirs. Judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid agrees with Gobind.
9.59am: Court proceedings are over. The next mention of the case is set for Sept 9 along with the Aug 7 charge at the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur. Lim is expected to face more charges in the Butterworth Sessions Court on Tuesday (Aug11) with his wife Betty Chew and businesswoman Phang Li Koon.
10:17am: Lim Guan Eng leaves the courthouse and heads to his Bagan service centre about 1km down the road to hold a press conference.
10.30am: The crowd outside courthouse clears and police pack up to leave.