GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The corruption trial of Lim Guan Eng is set to continue on May 21 after being postponed due to the general elections.
The former Penang chief minister's lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, said the case would be brought up for mention in the High Court.
Mr Lim was named Malaysia's Finance Minister last week after the surprise win by Pakatan Harapan at the country's 14th general election.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad clarified on Monday that that Lim has merely been named Finance Minister but has yet to take his oath of office.
“Every minister must be someone who is qualified for the position. “If there is a case against such a person, we cannot appoint him or her,” he told reporters after meeting with ministry secretaries-general to explain the functions and roles of the new government.
Dr Mahathir stressed that the rule of law must be followed, and the Government will have to wait until Lim is cleared of charges before he can be made the minister.
Mr Lim pleaded not guilty on June 30, 2016, to two counts of corruption over the conversion of agricultural land to residential status and the purchase of a plot and bungalow at below market value.
He was charged with using his position as chief minister to gain gratification for himself and wife Betty Chew Gek Cheng by approving the application for conversion of agricultural land to a public housing zone in Balik Pulau to a company, Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd.
Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain a plot of land and bungalow at No. 25, Jalan Pinhorn, on July 28, 2015, from businesswoman Phang Li Koon for RM2.8 million (S$950,000), at below market value.
Phang pleaded not guilty to a charge of abetting him.
The trial was delayed after both filed motions to declare Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act as unconstitutional.
Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail dismissed the applications and the defendants referred the matter to the Court of Appeal, which ruled that Section 62 was unconstitutional. The Federal Court later overturned the ruling.
Speaking at his first public rally in three years on Wednesday (May 16) night, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim endorsed Lim as finance minister.
Anwar, a former finance minister himself, said Lim had a good track record in Penang and will ensure open tenders for government projects, reported freemalaysiatoday website.
He also rubbished claims that Lim’s position as finance minister threatened the fate of Malay institutions and programmes.
“Just because his name is Lim Guan Eng, people have cast doubts,” he told the rally attended by 5,000 at Padang Timur.
Anwar also warned Lim to be careful of the “bears and snakes” who will come to kiss his hands and then ask for contracts.