Penang CM corruption case, Court to rule on motion anti-corruption act ‘unconstitutional’


In this file photo taken on 30 June 2016, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Khoon was seen in Penang Sessions Court. Lim was charged with two counts of corruption. The High Court here today fixed March 7 to unveil its decision on a motion filed by two accused parties in the corruption case of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who are seeking a declaration that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act is unconstitutional. Pix by Danial Saad
Men of law: DPP Masri (right) leading the prosecution team out of the courtroom after the day’s proceedings.

Court to rule on ‘violation’ motion ahead of CM corruption trial

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here will rule on March 7 whether Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 is in violation of the Federal Constitution.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon want Section 62 to be declared unconstitutional as they claim it is against the tenet of “considered innocent unless proven guilty.”

Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the date after the defence and prosecution made their arguments.

Lim and Phang are facing charges under the MACC Act in relation to the sale and purchase of a bungalow in 2014 and separately filed the motion to declare Section 62 a violation of the Federal Constitution in early January.

Phang’s counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram said Section 62 must be struck down as “it is contrary to a right to fair trial and is in violation of the fundamental rights of the accused.”

He argued that the section infringes the accused’s constitutional right under Article 5(1) and Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“Section 62 of the MACC Act requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.

“However, the right of an accused to be presumed innocent and right to silence are encapsulated in the Federal Constitution.

“Article 5(1) declares that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law and Article 8(1) dictates that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

“The court has not called for defence and yet the prosecution is asking for the statement of defence, even before the court decides. This is against the presumption of innocence,” he told the court yesterday.

Gobind Singh, acting for Lim, said the provision favours the prosecution and discriminates against the rights of the accused.

He argued that Section 62 restricted the defence of the accused person by excluding the right of an accused to expand his defence further and produce further documents at the trial.

“It is against the provisions of equality under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the accused could be subjected to criminal consequences under Section 68 of the MACC Act for failing to comply with the Act’s provisions and be penalised under Section 69 of the MACC Act.

DPP Masri Mohd Daud said Section 62 of the MACC Act is not discriminatory and is procedural and a general provision.

“The Act does not stop the defence from making further submissions other than those which had been submitted,” said Masry.

“The arguments that Section 62 contradicts Article 5 of the Con-stitution is far-fetched! Article 5 refers to, among others, the rights to consult a lawyer and the rights to be informed of the grounds for an arrest.”

On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

The offence under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Phang at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015. The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Phang, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Both Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty. Their cases will be jointly heard between March and July.

Phang is respresented by Sithambaram, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and A. Ruebankumar, while Lim by Gobind, Ramkarpal Singh Deo, R.S.N Rayer and Terence Naidu.

By Chong Kah Yuan The Star/Asia News Network

Related:

MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION ACT 2009 – SPRM

http://www.sprm.gov.my/…/1059-malaysiananticorruptioncommissionact2009act-694

The ACT 694 under the Law of Malaysia, which is also the Malaysian AntiCorruption Commission Act 2009, received the Royal Assent, gazetted and enforced …

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Penang has confirmed the illegal hill clearing cases reported by Penang Forum


Land clearing in Penang is rampant with Civil liberties group, Penang Forum (PF) revealing only 7.4 per cent of the state is categorised as forested land. NSTP pix
Location : Near Lintang Bukit Jambul 1
Approximate Coordinates : 5°20’38.47″N,100°16’52.82″E
Report sent in August 2016. Photos taken in November 2016 and 2014. PHW Report 15 pix.

 

GEORGE TOWN: Penang has acknowledged that nine out of 29 hill clearing cases on the island, as reported by Penang Forum , were illegal.

Penang Forum representative Rexy Prakash Chacko said state Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) had a discussion with them last week.

This came about after the forum’s first Penang Hills Watch (PHW) report on hill clearing cases was submitted to the state on Jan 2.

“They investigated the report and concluded that only nine were illegal clearing activities while the rest were legally permitted land works (14) and natural slope failure (one). The other five cases are still being investigated by the relevant departments.

“The illegal clearing cases have been issued with stop work orders or are being followed up by court action,” he said on Saturday.

Chacko commended Penang’s concern and transparency in responding to the PHW report.

He urged for close monitoring on the nine illegal clearing cases and for mitigation action to be taken to rehabilitate the areas if necessary.

“For those with permits, the forum hopes that the clearing will strictly adhere to the state laws on land works and drainage.”

Chow, when met at Datuk Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo’s CNY open house in Taman Free School, said he had discussed with Penang Forum members about the report and answered their queries.

The public can view the PHW report as well as the response from the state government at the Penang Hills Watch Facebook page (@PenangHillsWatch) or the Penang Forum website, and see them interactively on a map at the Penang Hills Watch page.

PHW, a citizen-oriented initiative to provide a platform to monitor activities affecting the hills of Penang, was launched in October last year by Penang Forum, a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups often critical of the state government’s plans and policies. –  The Star

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To elect or not elect mayors of City Councils of local government?


THERE are three levels of government in most countries – a federal government, state government and local authorities.

Although Malaysia is generally seen as a democratic country, only the federal government and the state governments are elected.

In other words, members of parliament are elected and they elect the prime minister. State assemblymen are also elected and they in turn elect the mentris besar or chief ministers.

However, the local authorities are not elected. The mayors or presidents and councillors are appointed by the state government.

It is time to bring back elected local governments.

There were elected local governments in the past. As early as 1951, when Malaya was a colony of England, elections were held to elect councillors in George Town.

For example, Goh Guan Hoe, more popularly known as G. H. Goh, a lawyer and an MCA leader, was chosen as the president of George Town in 1956. Although he was often addressed as “mayor”, technically, he was the president of the municipality.

George Town was declared a city by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan 1, 1957. By that time, the Labour Party was in control of the municipality and D. S. Ramanathan, a leader of the Labour Party, was elected as the first mayor of George Town.

Since then, local government in Penang Island has gone through considerable changes. Local government elections were suspended in the 1960s. The reason given by the federal government was Indonesia’s declaration of “Ganyang Malaysia”.

The City Council of George Town was amalgamated with the rest of the island to form a municipality of Penang Island. The local authority of the island became a municipality.

Since then, the president and councillors have been appointed by the state government. It is fair to believe that the appointments were the prerogative of the chief minister of Penang.

There has been a tendency to appoint government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. For example, the mayor and president of Penang Island and Seberang Perai were government officers.

There are good reasons for appointing senior government officers largely because they have the experience and expertise in the working of the local authorities.

On the other hand, this practice is not ideal. Senior government officers have been trained to abide by the General Orders and are expected to look to the chief minister or mentri besar as their superior.

Hence they tend to implement what their superior officers want. Since they have been appointed by the chief minister or mentri besar, it is difficult for them to ignore his preferences.

There were days when presidents of local councils were appointed from among the politicians of the ruling party. For example, the president of Penang Island Municipal Council, Tan Gim Hua, was a leader of Gerakan.

Unfortunately, there have been no books written about the days of Penang Island Municipal Council when Tan was the president of the Penang Island Municipality.

It is not necessary to appoint only government officers as mayors or presidents of the local authorities. Hopefully, in the near future, chief ministers or mentris besar will take the trouble to appoint other prominent personalities to be local council presidents or mayors.

Better still, the federal government should review the Local Government Act. It has been long overdue to bring back local government elections.

Meanwhile, it may be interesting if the Penang state government appoints non-government officers to be the heads of local councils.

For instance, Dr Lim Mah Hui is a good example. He has just announced that he would resign as a councillor of the Penang Island City Council. He is a suitable person to be appointed a mayor of Penang Island.

He is familiar with Penang Island as he was a lecturer in Universiti Sains Malaysia and was a local councillor in Penang Island for six years. He spent a considerable amount of time in the disbursement of funds at international level.

Although he is rich enough to buy an expensive car to go around Penang Island, he has made good use of a bicycle as a mode of transport.

Being vocal and full of ideas, it will be interesting and good for the residents of the city to appoint Dr Lim as the mayor of the island.

By Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee who is interested in urban planning, housing and urban governance. He is also a friend of Dr Lim. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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Singaporeans on buying sprees for Penang prewar houses; Residents see red


Singapore sweep continues

 Republic’s real estate hunters snapping up houses outside Penang’s heritage enclave.

GEORGE TOWN: Singaporean real estate hunters with a taste for prewar properties in Penang are still on buying sprees, says an NGO.

They are snapping up houses that are located just outside the state’s heritage enclave as these properties are not accorded heritage protection by Unesco, according to George Town Heritage Action.

The biggest buyer appears to be World Class Land (WCL), which is building the tallest residential skyscraper in the planet’s southern hemisphere.

Called Australia 108 because of its 108 storeys, the Melbourne development is expected to be completed in 2019.

WCL has since December 2013 reportedly snapped up 236 prewar houses in Penang, totalling more than 250,000sq ft – the equivalent of 26 football fields.

Recently, it applied to build a 46-storey condominium tower in Gurdwara Road, just 200m from Komtar after buying 37 prewar properties in that area.

Its latest block buy appears to be 26 prewar houses on Penang Road and Bertam Lane, also across from Komtar.

The properties were owned by six descendants of Tunku Kudin (1835- 1909), the great grand uncle of the late first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, for nearly 100 years.

The offer from WCL was about RM980 per sq ft, totalling RM21mil.

Tengku Abdullah Tengku Mahadi, 61, who collected the monthly rent from the tenants on behalf of his 92-year-old father, said the deal was sealed in Thailand through one of the six heirs who spoke for all of them.

“All the heirs are in their late 80s and 90s. It will cost too much to develop the land ourselves.

“We didn’t really feel like selling. We know the new owner will change the whole place but we are all old and don’t want to stand in the way of development,” he told The Star.

He said the heirs only earned about RM50 per month from each unit when the Rent Control Act was in force.

After it was repealed in 1997, they raised the rent to about RM600 and it had stayed the same since.

WCL lawyers have sent eviction notices to the 60-odd tenants who have until end November to move out.

A subsidiary of Aspial Corporation Ltd, WCL has completed many projects in the island republic and Australia.

Aspial chief executive officer Koh Wee Seng is listed by Forbes this year as the 43rd richest man in Singapore.

George Town Heritage Action has been vociferously against the state government’s apparent lack of control over the alleged WCL buying sprees.

“This company’s business model is to buy the properties, evict the tenants, renovate or rebuild, and then drastically increase rentals,” said its co-founder Mark Lay.

At a press conference yesterday, he showed a list of 236 properties purportedly bought by WCL through several subsidiaries.

Totalling more than 250,000 sq ft, these include rows of old houses along 19 roads, including Dato Keramat, Macalister, Transfer and much of the Seven Streets precinct (known locally as Chit Tiau Lor) near Komtar.

Lay warned that if the state government allowed “one company to accumulate more than 230 prewar houses, it will kill diversity and people’s moral rights to the city”.

“Our concern is also socio-cultural. Any company can damage the fabric of George Town when they have a monopoly,” he added.

In June, The Star reported that Singaporean companies typically raise rentals by 400% to 500% after sprucing up the old houses.

In response, Penang Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo had said that the state cannot interfere with free enterprise.

By Arnold Loh The Star/ANN

Penang residents see red over Singaporeans snapping up properties

 

GEORGE TOWN: Public anger in the state is on the rise as Singaporeans continue to buy up pre-war houses here by the blocks.

NGOs and netizens are reacting negatively following The Star Online’s Facebook posting of the news yesterday.

Many are calling for stricter measures to limit foreign buying, but Penang Citizens Chant Group legal adviser Yan Lee warned that it would be useless as foreigners could sidestep such restrictions by simply forming Malaysian shell companies with local directors who are proxies or trustees.

“The corporate veil will shield them from these simple stop-gap measures. Instead, these measures end up keeping out individual foreigners who earnestly want to own property here because they just want to live in Penang.

“The Penang government is more concerned about collecting development charges. The more it allows development, the more money it collects,” he lamented.

Yan Lee was commenting on cooling measures here since 2012 that prevent foreigners from buying landed property of less than RM2mil on the island and RM1mil on the mainland.

For stratified property, the cap is not less than RM1mil both on the island and the mainland.

There is also a state approval fee of 3% over the purchase price.

State Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said in a statement yesterday that statistics had shown that these measures had reduced foreign buying of Penang property by about 50% since 2013.

George Town Heritage Action held a press conference on Thursday to reveal that Singapore developer World Class Land (WCL) had acquired 236 pre-war houses in and around the heritage zone totalling about 250,000sq ft, equal to 26 football fields.

According to the annual report of WCL’s parent company, Aspial Corporation Ltd, the properties are held by six Malaysian companies – WCL (George Town) Holdings, WCL (Magazine), WCL (Macallum), WCL (Noordin), WCL (Bertam R) and WCL (Bertam L).

In the Companies Commission of Malaysia’s online portal, there are also company records of WCL (Malaysia) and WCL (Penang).

By Arnold Loh The Star/ANN

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Investing in minds to stop brain drain


Beijing lures back foreign graduates with lucrative offers

BEIJING: As a young biologist at the University of Michigan, Chen Xiaowei had plenty to like about life in the United States.

He was paid well as a researcher and enjoyed raising his family in Ann Arbor, a town he remembers as beautiful, friendly and highly educated.

But an offer from a Chinese university for him to return home to Beijing was too generous not to consider.

In addition to a comparable salary, he was promised enough startup research money that he wouldn’t have to worry about pursuing grants.

So in 2014 he moved back with his wife and two children.

“I feel freer to pursue my best ideas,” Chen said.

He said he has received such generous support that he’s able to study a disease through symptoms in both the liver and muscles simultaneously – something he said he would not be able to do in the United States because of limitations on grants, which are often tied to projects instead of researchers.

Chen, who earned a doctorate in physiology at Michigan in 2008, has joined thousands of high achieving overseas Chinese recruited to come home through the 1,000 Talents programme, one of many state efforts to reverse a decades long brain drain.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and one of the fastest growing, sees a need to bring home more of its brightest as it works to transform its largely labourintensive, lowtech economy into one fuelled by innovation in science and technology.

More than 300,000 Chinese studied in the US alone in the 2014-2015 school year.

Most of those students return to China, but the country has had difficulty regaining the most coveted graduates – those with advanced degrees and experience in science and engineering.

A 2014 report by Oak Ridge Institute shows 85% of the 4,121 Chinese students who received doctorates in science and engineering from American universities in 2006 were still in the US five years later.

The 1,000 Talents programme offers recruits salaries several times more than what a Chineseeducated local hire would receive, as well as heavily subsidised education for children and millions in startup research funds. The signup bonus alone can be as much as US$150,000 (RM605,850).

Chen, now an assistant professor at Peking University, was given a US$1.5mil (RM6.05mil) research fund.

“In the States,” he said, “it’s very hard for young people to get money when they need it the most.” — AP

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Tech Dome Penang Official Opening


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/NhYGqyW9Ke8

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Imaf7Ibb5nQ

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/RH-IHut4S88

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/E_XrNA4KS54

The official opening of TECH DOME PENANG on July 16 marks the culmination of an arduous and challenging 5-year journey to set up the state’s very first Science Discovery Centre..TECH DOME PENANG has been modelled after the San Jose Tech Centre whereby the government provided the building and funds are raised from the corporate sector and the public. The Penang State Government has, however, taken this a step further by not only providing the use of the iconic Komtar Geodesic Dome to house the facility but also provided funding of RM5.15 million (through the Penang Development Corporation) to kick-start the project.

When the present State Government assumed office in 2008, it realizes the paramount need to not only maintain Penang’s position and status as a globally-renowned centre of technological excellence but with a mission to take it to the next level and beyond through innovation, research and development.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was instrumental in providing the impetus and the push as he realized that the mission cannot be achieved merely through just the vision and support of the State Government and industry players but would require a very essential component which is a highly skilled and knowledgeable human capital. After all, human talent is the new oil of the 21st century and building human talent requires a PPP model of Public Private Partnership.

There has been increasing concerns about the declining interests in the pursuit of studies and also the continuous decline in standards of English, Mathematics and Science among students below 15 years of age as evidenced through studies conducted under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In their latest ranking released for 2015, Malaysia was ranked a lowly 52 out of 76 countries assessed, well below regional powerhouses like Singapore (1st), Hong Kong (2nd), South Korea (3rd), Taiwan and Japan (joint 4th). What was alarming was that even a comparatively new player like Vietnam was ranked 12th. If Malaysia cannot even surpass Vietnam, how then can we be a manufacturing powerhouse. The urgency to return Penang’s position as the Centre of Excellence (COE) for Science and Technology became critical.

Tech Dome Penang will showcase more than 120 international-standard exhibits targeted at sparking the interests of the younger generation to the exciting world of Science and Technology and providing the catalyst to inspire them to pursue studies and careers in these fields. The exhibits are laid out in 6 main galleries, namely Robotics, Information Technology, Forces & Motion, Electromagnetism, Life Tech and Optics. In addition, there is a Children’s Exploration Zone for pre-schoolers and also an Observatory housing the largest telescope in Penang.

The majority of the exhibits were designed and supplied by exhibits design fabricators from New Zealand, Germany and USA. The centre will also showcase exhibits from local manufacturing corporations and other locally-based Multi-National Corporations.

Besides showcasing exhibits, Tech Dome Penang will also house classrooms and a laboratory to conduct science classes, workshops and school holiday camps for students.

Industry players may also find Tech Dome Penang a suitable venue for carrying out their team-building programmes as a number of the exhibits are suitable for such purposes. There is also additional floor space in the annex for companies to hold public exhibitions to showcase their technology and products or to even hold simultaneous walk-in interviews.

There are also CSR opportunities for companies to sponsor visits by children from rural-based schools and also the under-privileged.

Entry charges for those with MyKad are RM12 for children from 5 years to below 12 years, RM16 for children with student cards, and RM20 for adults. Children below 5 years enter free while senior citizens pay RM12.

Tech Dome will be open daily from 10am – 6pm except for Tuesdays (unless Public Holidays) when it will be closed.

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Critical time for DAP leader, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng


 

Video: //players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5010689338001

There has been widespread sympathy for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng but he is under pressure to walk the talk and take leave while he clears his name in court.

IT was almost 7pm but the sky was still bright when a convoy of cars emerged from the underground car park of Komtar, Penang.

The only hint that this was no ordinary caravan of vehicles was the flashing lights and siren from an accompanying police car.

The moment had finally come after weeks of speculation. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had been arrested and was being escorted to the MACC headquarters to be charged in court the next morning.

It has been a spectacular fall from grace for the DAP leader who rose to power on an awesome wave of popular support and who is known as “Tokong” among the Penang people.

Lim has claimed trial to two charges, one of which pertains to using his position to benefit his wife Betty Chew and himself in the rezoning of a piece of land belonging to a private company known as Magnificent Emblem in 2014.

Another charge is related to his purchase of a bungalow from businesswoman Phang Li Koon a year later at below market value.

Phang, a mysterious figure until thrust into the media spotlight, was charged with abetment in the property transaction.

Gossip and speculation about the nature of the charges have been brewing among the cafe society but everything should be clearer when hearing begins towards the end of the year.

Lim is not the first political head of state to have waded into troubled waters.

Former Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo is now on parole after spending six months in jail for purchasing an under-valued “Balinese palace” from a company that had business links with the state government.

Another former Selangor mentri besar, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, also lost his job following the Australian Gold Coast affair that saw him charged with possessing undeclared foreign currency.

The late Datuk Seri Harun Idris was forced by Umno to resign in the 1970s after he was charged for corruption.

Lim is also not the first to resist taking a leave of absence after being charged in court.

Former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan clung on after being charged for corruption. He was eventually found guilty but his penalty was not great enough to cost him his seat.

But Pairin’s time was old politics and this is supposed to be the era of new politics.

The DAP central executive committee has given Lim a ringing endorsement to stay on in his job on grounds that “there is no question of conflict of interest as Lim has no influence or control over the prosecution”.

It is only expected of DAP to stand by their top leader because if the top man falls, the party will become shaky.

But it also means that DAP is unable to walk the talk. The party is famous for asking others to step down over issues big and small but is unable to live up to the same principle when it involves one of their own. It will be hard for the party to judge others from now on.

It has put DAP figures like their Selangor chairman Tony Pua in an awkward situation. Shortly after the bungalow issue erupted, Pua had said there was no need for Lim to go on leave unless charges were brought against him.

He was quoted in a pro-Pakatan Harapan news portal as saying: “When charged, then (the person) should take time off.”

But legally speaking, the Chief Minister does not need to go on leave even with these kind of charges hanging over his head.

According to a Selangor judicial figure, forcing him out would be pre-judging him.

“He can still chair meetings, make decisions over land and development and sign documents. He can even go on with that tunnel thing.

“But having said that, a politician’s life is not only about legalities but also perception. He is representing a party that lectures others what to do. Can they still do that?” said the judicial figure.

Moreover, the Chief Minister’s focus, said the judicial figure, will now be divided between his case and running the state. There will be complications as the court case drags on.

Lim may not have influence or control over the prosecution but as the Chief Minister, he has control over the civil servants who may be called to testify in his case.

It will be awkward for potential witnesses who are his subordinates because not many people would be comfortable going to court to testify against their boss.

His presence would also bring uncertainty to the state and investors do not like uncertainty.

Still, it is his call and he has the full support of his party including that of party doyen Dr Chen Man Hin whose reputation is impeccable.

The charges against Lim are quite serious and it is only natural that he is doing what it takes to defend himself. Being Chief Minister will give him that much needed clout and back-up to face the complications ahead.

Besides, there is talk of new charges in the works related to the Taman Manggis land and also involving a company with links to “Miss Phang”, as she is known.

But there is also another side to the story why DAP is reluctant to have an acting Chief Minister take over from Lim.

Lim’s deputies are Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Rashid Hasnon from PKR and Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy from DAP.

Either one of them could act in Lim’s place if he goes on leave. But the sentiment in this Chinese-dominated party is that senior state executive council member Chow Kon Yeow should be the acting Chief Minister.

DAP would look terrible if Chow leap-frogs over the two deputies. It would only reinforce the perception that DAP is a Chinese chauvinist party.

However, if either Rashid or Dr Ramasamy takes over, the party’s right-wing Chinese base would be badly affected. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, DAP probably thought it would be better for Lim to remain at the top.

DAP leaders have slammed the charges as baseless and an attempt to topple a democratically elected leader. It is quite clear they intend to approach this as a political trial and to win over the court of public opinion.

A lot of Lim’s time will be spent convincing the public that he is innocent and a victim. Events like “Walk with Guan Eng” and “Session with the People” have been planned for today.

His supporters have tried to liken his dilemma to what Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim went through in 1998. It is not the best of comparisons given that Anwar was able to galvanise a whole generation of young Malays who flooded the streets in anger.

What DAP may have failed to take note of was that many Chinese intelligentsia have been wary of Lim’s leadership since the Mercedes-Benz episode. Lim had opted for a Mercedes S300L as his official car a mere three months after the state purchased a new fleet of Toyota Camry for the state leaders.

This was evident in comments by the Huazong chairman of Negri Sembilan, Lau Zhi Wen, who is as anti-Barisan Nasional as one gets and has often run down the 1MDB issue.

Lau’s comments in the wake of the court case have gone viral among the Chinese-speaking circle.

He recalled the early days when Lim flew economy class and provided hope for change and greater transparency. He said the people had longed for another Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who was respected for his simple lifestyle.

But Lau said that Lim changed after winning by a bigger majority in 2013.

“Many said you grew arrogant, others still deify you. You changed cars, flew business class and bought a RM5mil bungalow for RM2.8mil,” he said.

Lau said he had high expectations of the Penang Chief Minister but would no longer speak up for him.

The Chinese vernacular press that would have once defended him to the hilt was also visibly neutral. The thing is Lim does not have as many friends in the Chinese media as when he started out as Chief Minister.

The Chinese vernacular media was instrumental in helping to propel DAP to power. They put Lim on a pedestal but now, eight years down the road, many of them have stories to tell about how they were treated by Lim and his staff and they are not pleasant stories.

The same goes for some of the lawyers watching the drama at the Penang courts on Thursday. A few years ago, they would have come out for him but on that day, their response was: “Let justice take its course.”

DAP is hopeful and confident that the court case will swing sympathy and support towards Lim and arrest the resurgence of support for Barisan.

They are painting their secretary-general as a victim of selective prosecution. Lim has also been trying to tug at the heartstrings with famous sayings that he would prefer to die standing than live on bended knees, and playing up his overnight detention at the MACC headquarters.

The court case proper has yet to start but the court of public opinion is already in session.

By Joceline Tan

 

Who’s is who?

Judge:
Judicial Commissioner Datuk Azmi Arifin

Accused:
1. Lim Guan Eng 2. Phang Li Koon

Prosecution:

1. Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali 2. DPP Masri Mohd daud 3. DPP Mohd dusuki Mokhtar 4. DPP udiman lut Mohamed 5. DPP Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul 6. DPP Mohd Zain Ibrahim 7. DPP Muhammad Fadzlan Mohd Noorbr

Lim Guan Eng’s counsel:

1. Gobind Singh Deo (lead) 2. Ramkarpal Singh 3. R.S.N Rayer 4. M. Kulasegaran 5. P. Subramaniam 6. M. Manoharanbr

Phang Li Koon’s counsel:

1. Datuk K. Kumaraendran (lead) 2. Dev Kumaraendran 3. Raj Shankar 4. Chetan Jethawanibr />

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