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Blogger admits not knowing date and price of Penang Chief Minister’s bungalow purchase

GEORGE TOWN — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial commenced on Monday (March 26) with a pro Barisan Nasional (BN) blogger admitting to the Penang High Court that he had lodged a report alleging that Lim abused his power in purchasing a house, even though he didn’t actually know when it was bought and how much the property had cost.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (L) and his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (R), at the Penang High Court on Monday for the first day of the corruption trial over Lim's bungalow purchase. Photo: The Malaysian Insight

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (L) and his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (R), at the Penang High Court on Monday for the first day of the corruption trial over Lim's bungalow purchase. Photo: The Malaysian Insight

GEORGE TOWN — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s corruption trial commenced on Monday (March 26) with a pro Barisan Nasional (BN) blogger admitting to the Penang High Court that he had lodged a report alleging that Lim abused his power in purchasing a house, even though he didn’t actually know when it was bought and how much the property had cost.

Mr Mohsin Abdul Latiff, who is popularly known by his pen name Mamu Parpu, was the first person to take the witness stand.

He is also the first person to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, alleging that Lim abused his position to buy his home at Jalan Pinhorn in Penang at a discounted price.

But during examination by Lim’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, Mr Mohsin conceded that he did not know the value of the bungalow or the date of the purchased when he lodged the report, only stating that the property was acquired in 2008.

“I don’t know,” he said when Mr Gobind asked if he knew the date the sales and purchase agreement for the property was signed.

Mr Mohsin, 34, said he had based his report on a TV3 news report he had seen earlier on a debate between Lim and Mr Shabudin Yahaya, a Member of Parliament from the ruling BN coalition, in Parliament, adding that he had no political interests against Lim.

He added he also received a video of the exchange via WhatsApp before he lodged the MACC report.

Mr Gobind had pointed out that Mr Shabudin in the TV3 report was heard saying “2015”, but Mr Mohsin in his MACC report in 2016, claimed Lim had bought the house in 2008.

“I cannot remember. I made the report two years ago,” Mr Mohsin said.

Mr Mohsin was further asked where he obtained information for his MACC report.

He said he got it from a blog, and admitted he did not know details of the sales and purchase agreement or the value of the land and the property, insisting that he believed Lim had purchased the bungalow below market value.

He also admitted he did not consult any property valuers or experts on the value of the house.

Earlier, the blogger admitted he frequently posts on social media with the hashtag “Kami Geng Najib” (We are Najib’s Gang), but denied he was pro-BN.

“It means I am a supporter of our country’s prime minister,” he said.

Mr Mohsin also denied that his evidence in court was arranged to frame Lim, but admitted that he often took part in protests against the Penang government and the chief minister.

Monday’s was the first day of Lim’s corruption trial before Judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail over his bungalow purchase.

Lim and his former landlady, Phang Li Khoon, were charged in 2016 over allegations that the property was sold to Lim at a discounted price as a form of bribery.

Mr Gobind told the media during a brief recess that when Lim bought the house in 2015, it was at a price above the market value.

Lim was accused of using his position to obtain gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving an application by company Magnificent Emblem to convert agricultural land to residential use during a state planning committee meeting on July 18, 2014; and by buying the bungalow from Phang at RM2.8 million (S$940,000) when the property’s market value was RM4.27 million on July 28, 2015.

He allegedly committed the two offences under Section 23 of the MACC Act, and under Section 165 of the Penal Code respectively.

If found guilty, Lim faces up to 20 years’ jail, a fine five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher. Under the second offence, he faces up to two years’ jail, fine or both, if convicted.

Phang was charged on July 28 last year under Section 109 of the Penal Code for abetting Lim in relation to the house purchase.

Phang’s case will be heard at the same time as Lim’s. She is represented by counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik.

The Penang High Court complex was partially restricted this morning for security reasons.

A police Light Strike Force was on standby outside the building. About 100 people turned up to support Lim, but were not allowed to enter the court compound.

A limited number of reporters were allowed to enter the building and into the courtroom after having their bags searched. AGENCIES

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