Embattled Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said he would likely be jailed over charges of graft and abuse of power over property deals, which the DAP leader said were trumped up by the ruling BN government as part of a clampdown on opposition leaders.
Lim, who has maintained his innocence over the corruption allegations, said told party members in Kuching on Friday night not to be “disheartened” and to continue the fight to “save Malaysia”.
“Oh, they say, you want to hold state elections because you are want to divert attention. Because you want to save Lim Guan Eng,” Lim said at a fund-raising dinner held to support his legal costs.
“But whether we win this election, I don’t think you can save Lim Guan Eng. We cannot save Lim Guan Eng because BN wants to finish off Lim Guan Eng. I have accepted that.”
Lim was arrested on June 29 and charged the following day with allegedly using his position to buy his home at below market value, an offence that carries up to two years in jail.
A second charge alleged he used his office to obtain gratification for himself and his wife by approving an application to convert agricultural land to residential land. That charge carries a penalty of a jail term of not more than 20 years and a fine.
If jailed or fined more than RM2,000, Lim would be stripped of his seats in legislature and barred from politics for five years.
“I have accepted that I am going in. But I will fight all the way. I will not back down. And even though you cannot save Lim Guan Eng, we believe you can still save Malaysia. You can still save Penang. You can still save Sarawak. You can still save all states of Malaysia,” Lim said.
“We are not going to be disheartened by our losses in Sarawak. We know it is difficult when you have a new chief minister who says all the right things, but does all the bad things.”
During the dinner, attended by at least 500 supporters and Sarawak DAP leaders, Lim said the opposition component had been insistent before acquiescing to PKR’s request not to hold a snap election due to possible multi-cornered fights.
‘Let the people decide’
“I have to say this, we want to hold state elections because we want to let the people decide. The lawyers, from all parties, even from Pakatan Harapan, said that this is a political conspiracy to finish off Pakatan leaders. There is no basis for corruption. But even though we know we are clean, there is no corruption, we should let people have the right to decide.”
“That is why we return the mandate back to the people. Let the people decide whether they agree with us, (whether) to let me continue as chief minister whilst I fight these baseless corruption charges,” Lim said.
Meanwhile, Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen said the opposition component also faces its own “Sarawak version of 1MDB”.
Chong had charged that a total of RM11 billion in development expenditure was unaccounted for over a period of eight annual state budgets.
“There is all this money that has gone in this account. And we don’t know where it has gone,” Chong said.
In 2013, the Sarawak state government, under then-chief minister Taib Mahmud, brought a lawsuit against Chong, demanding RM100 million in damages. The High Court subsequently overturned the case, but the state government later filed an appeal. – Malaysiakini