LGE's case: 'Breach of constitution if A-G had no role in withdrawal'

Veena Babulal

KUALA LUMPUR: If it is true that Attorney-General (A-G) Tommy Thomas had nothing to do with the withdrawal of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s graft case, then there has been a breach of the Federal Constitution.

Former law minister Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim tweeted that the revelation by Attorney-General Chamber’s (A-GC) Appellate and Trial Division head Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria that the A-G was not involved in the case dismissal pointed to a violation of Article 145 of the Federal Constitution.

“Only the A-G has the power to withdraw a criminal case,” he posted on Twitter yesterday.

Rais’ remarks came amid growing speculation on why and how Lim’s case was withdrawn.

Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim

On Monday, the Penang High Court cleared Lim of two charges following the A-GC’s withdrawal.

The first charge was for using his former position as Penang chief minister to approve the application for the conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone.

The second charge was for gaining gratification for himself by buying a bungalow at below the market price at RM2.8 million, even though it was priced at RM4.27 million at the time.

Lim claimed trial to both charges, which were first filed in court in 2016.

Businesswoman Phang Li Koon, from whom Lim had bought the bungalow in 2015, was also acquitted of the corruption charge against her.

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

This decision was met with speculation on how and why the duo was acquitted.

Interest group Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism executive director Cynthia Gabriel questioned how the High Court could have easily acquitted the duo as former attorney-general Apandi Ali was confident in pressing the charges.

Gabriel said the ease in which Lim was acquitted, even when the prosecution asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, raised suspicion.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said Lim also expressed shock at the court’s decision to clear the latter.

He said the decisions made by the courts had to be accepted even if they were wrong.

Yesterday, however, the A-GC said its decision to withdraw the corruption charges against Lim and Phang was not influenced by anyone and done without fear or favour.

Hanafiah said Thomas had no hand in the decision as he had already recused himself in all deliberations regarding the case from the onset. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd