Water Dept corruption trial to proceed as scheduled


KOTA KINABALU (Feb 3): The corruption trial involving former director of State Water Department and two others will proceed as scheduled on February 22-24 after the Sessions Court here on Friday ruled that the argument used in applying for a stay of the entire trial proceedings did not become a fatal point of the application.

In his reserved decision, judge Abu Bakar Manat said apart from the argument submitted was not becoming a fatal point to the stay application by Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib and Fauziah Hj Piut, it was also not a point of interest by this court since it was settled law.

“A witness may choose whatever language he/she preferred to use in court while giving evidence be it Malay, English or his/her mother tongue language,” the judge explained.

On February 2, the first and second accused persons Ag Mohd Tahir and his wife Fauziah through their counsel Priskila Akwila Sinem had applied for a stay of the entire trial proceedings since they had filed a criminal revision at the High Court here on February 1.

Among others, the contention raised in the revision was that the entire proceedings were in national language and at the very least accompanied by any translation in English.

The revision will be heard on March 6 at the High Court here.

Meanwhile, the same court dismissed an application by the third accused Lim Lam Beng @ Lim Chee Hong to expunge certain paragraphs in Teo’s witness statement.

“Having considered the application, and having read and considered the written submissions of both learned counsel and prosecution together with all the relevant authorities and cases law filed therein, I hereby make a ruling that the third accused’s application to expunge certain paragraphs in Teo’s witness statement is not allowed and be dismissed.

“My brief grounds of ruling for the dismissal are as follows; this application is still premature as evidence had not yet been adduced by the prosecution as to whether the statement given by Teo is too remote as its goes backdated to 2004 whereas the charge preferred against the third accused was in October and November 2016, not relevant to the facts in issue, scandalous and prejudicial to the third accused and/or its prejudicial effect outweighs its probative value.

“The court will decide and may only make a finding after hearing all the evidence adduced by the prosecution. For the court to consider whether the statement given is hearsay, concocted, fabricated, tailored and/or scandalous and therefore not relevant to the facts in issue, it is my considered view that evidence must be first led by the prosecution,” said the judge, adding that it was because only by doing so, the court can evaluate the evidence and later decided that the statements given are relevant or not and whether the statements given are hearsay, scandalous and whether it is admissible in court as evidence or otherwise.

The judge further ruled that the court must let the prosecution to tender their evidence against the third accused first in order to enable the court to consider if there are sufficient reasons or evidence for the charges to sustain or not, and this of course, necessitated the trial to commence first, then only the court will evaluate the evidence and make a finding whether the charges are sustainable or otherwise and whether the prosecution manages to prove its case against the third accused as charged.

“Furthermore, on the issue of remoteness of event, Section 6 of the Evidence Act 1950 allows for fact, though not in issue if so connected with fact in issue as to form part of the same transaction are relevant, whether they occurred at the same time and place or at a different times and places, no precise limits can be prescribed, in some cases, two facts occurring at the same time and place may have no connection between them: but in other cases, two facts separated by a vast distance and place may be parts of the same transaction.

“In this regard, this court agrees with the submission put forward by the prosecution that since this case involves a very big organized corruption scandal, involving a lots of monies and transaction, involving many parties from top up to down, therefore the prosecution has to prove the linkages and background of the events way back from 2005 until this case exploded in 2016,” said the judge.

The judge also said that since Teo is the star witness for the prosecution, his testimony and evidence in court is very crucial and if Teo’s witness statement in court and this juncture be expunged, it will lead the prosecution with no evidence in establishing its case.

“The prosecution will not be able to corroborate the evidence of Teo on material parts of his evidence by calling other witnesses and tendering relevant documents.

“Therefore, it is my considered view that by allowing this application to expunge paragraphs in witness statement, it will be depriving and prejudicing the prosecution to establish its case and definitely it is a premature act to do so, as such, this present application to expunge certain paragraphs in Teo’s witness statement is not allowed and be dismissed.

“Therefore, based on the above said reason, the court hereby gives a ruling that the third accused’s application to expunge certain paragraphs in Teo’s witness statement is not allowed and be dismissed,” the judge added.

On February 2, the hearing of the application by the third accused was heard in court.

Ag Mohd Tahir, 59, Fauziah, 57, and Lim, 68, were tried for alleged money laundering offences involving cash and huge amount of bank savings as well as unlawful possession of luxury goods.

Ag Mohd Tahir faces 11 charges and Fauziah faces 19 charges under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Apart from that Fauziah has another two joint charges with Ag Mohd Tahir under Section 4 (1)(b) also of the same Act and Ag Tahir also has another charge under Section 4(1)(a) of the same Act.

The alleged offences against Ag Mohd Tahir and Fauziah were committed at his office here, a house in Sembulan, at bank branches, at a condominium, in Sulaman and a tower in Kuala Lumpur between October 4 and November 4, 2016.

Lim was alleged to have committed the offences at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office at Jalan UMS and at a house here between October 13 and November 8, 2016.

For Friday’s proceedings, deputy public prosecutors Mahadi Abdul Jumaat and Haresh Prakash Somiah appeared for the prosecution.

Counsel Tan Hock Chuan, Baldev Singh, Karpaljit Singh and Calvin Wong represented Lim.

Teo, who is the 29th prosecution witness, has not finished giving his evidence in court.
Counsel Ram Singh held a watching brief for Teo.