Court rejects challenge of Guan Eng’s acquittal

Opalyn Mok

(From left) Lawyers RSN Rayer and Ramkarpal Singh represented Lim Guan Eng while Datuk V.Sithambaram represented Phang Li Koon. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 12 — The High Court here rejected a citizen’s application to review the acquittal of Lim Guan Eng and a businesswoman over their corruption charges, ruling that the applicant has no legal standing in the matter.

Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail said applicant Muhsin Abdul Latheef’s dissatisfaction with the acquittal had no bearing in the case, noting that he was simply a complainant.

“I am allowing the preliminary objections against this application and dismissing this application so the decision to acquit and discharge Lim Guan Eng and Phang Li Koon still stands,” she said when delivering her decision today.

“He (Muhsin) was not the accused and he was in no way a party in the proceedings of the case so he has no locus standi to make this application,” she said.

Hadhariah stressed that her decision was based purely on the law, and said those dissatisfied could appeal this further.

The judge noted that the only parties entitled to appeal criminal matters were the accused and the prosecution.

“So far there was no appeal filed by the prosecution against the decision,” she said. 

She also agreed with a preliminary objection raised by the respondents that under Section 278 of the Criminal Procedure Code arguing the High Court has no jurisdiction to alter or review its own decision.

Muhsin, through his counsel Gunamalar Joorindanjn, filed an application on Sept 19 to review the High Court’s decision to acquit the former Penang chief minister and businesswoman Phang.

The application named the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in the case as the first respondent, with Lim and Phang as the second and third respondents.

He sought for the court to reverse its previous acquittal of the two to a conditional discharge with the liberty to pursue the case at a later date.

Hadhariah pointed out today that only the attorney-general, based on Article 145 of the Federal Constitution, possessed the prerogative to decide prosecutions in the country.

“I am explaining this now so that people can understand. I don’t have the power to charge or drop case, it lies solely on the Attorney General’s power, I don’t have the power even though I am sitting up here,” she said.

Earlier during preliminary objections by the lawyers of all three respondents, the court was told that Muhsin has no locus standi to submit his application.

“If a man on the street go to court to demand a review of court decision in criminal cases, should the court allow this?” said Ramkarpal Singh, the Bukit Gelugor MP and lawyer acting for Lim.

Datuk V. Sithambaram, who represented Phang, also told the court that the correct venue for the application would have been the Court of Appeal, as the High Court could not review its own decisions.

Gunamalar argued otherwise, and claimed Muhsin need only to show he has a real interest in the case to file the application.

Speaking to reporters after the decision, she said they will appeal today’s ruling

Muhsin, commonly known by his social media name “Mamu Parpu”, has appealed for funds through his social media accounts to pay for the legal fees in his application.

He claimed the matter to be of public interest, citing his grounds for the application in which he alleged that Lim has a close relationship with Attorney General Tommy Thomas that represented a conflict of interest.

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