Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng's graft trial postponed due to Malaysia election

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng (centre) attending a court session in Penang on March 26, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's corruption trial has been postponed to May 21, leaving the federal opposition leader available to campaign in Malaysia's general election expected to be held in weeks.

High Court judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail on Monday (April 9) allowed the application for postponement after Lim's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said Lim had to be involved in the upcoming polls, which will make it difficult for him to be in court for the trial.

"Since Lim Guan Eng can't be in court due to the election process, we can't proceed with the trial this week so I am allowing the application," said Datuk Hadhariah.

Lim was not present in court. He was seen entering the residence of Penang's Yang diPertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas on Monday morning to seek an audience with the head of state to dissolve the state assembly ahead of elections.

Lim, 58, faces two corruption charges.

He is accused of using his position as a public officer in July 2014 to gain gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in southwest Penang to a company called Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

If convicted, he faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Lim is also accused of using his position in Oct 2015 to obtain for himself a plot of land and a bungalow, located at 25 Jalan Pinhorn, George Town, from businesswoman Phang Li Koon for RM2.8 million (S$951,000), a price which he allegedly knew was not commensurate with the property's then market value of RM4.27 million.

The charge carries a sentence of imprisonment for up to two years, a fine or both upon conviction.

Phang also pleaded not guilty to a charge of abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued price at the same place and date.

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