New evidence led to end of Lim Guan Eng corruption case: M'sia DPP

This article is more than 12 months old

A Malaysian deputy public prosecutor (DPP) has defended his decision to drop the corruption case against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, amid calls for more transparency.

DPP Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria said yesterday that the charges against Mr Lim were withdrawn after fresh evidence surfaced in the trial.

Without giving details, Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah said the evidence emerged during the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses.

"I concluded that as a result of the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses who have testified so far, the evidence supporting the first charge under Section 23 of the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) Act and under Section 165 of the Penal Code has been substantially weakened," he said.

On Monday, the Penang High Court acquitted Mr Lim of two charges - that he used his former position as chief minister of Penang to approve the conversion of land, and that he gained gratification for himself by buying a bungalow below market value.

The prosecution had asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, but the judge ordered a full acquittal instead.

Fuelling the outcry over Mr Lim's acquittal was anti-graft agency MACC's statement on Monday that it was shocked by the decision to drop the case, which it said was not made by the MACC.

Sources told The Straits Times that the decision does not sit well with the commission as its investigators believe there is evidence of Mr Lim abusing his position.

Mr Lim's acquittal comes after his lawyers argued that the charges were politically motivated, filing representations for the case to be dropped after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took power in May.

Mr Lim was charged with corruption in 2016, when PH was in the opposition. He is secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party, one of the four member parties of PH.

MP Tian Chua, a vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, yesterday urged the Attorney-General's Chamber to explain the acquittal, to uphold the PH government's promise of transparency.