Phee was detained on Aug 11 to assist investigations into an illegal factory processing carbon filters in Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam
GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) ultimatum to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to issue an apology within 48 hours over his reference to the detention of state executive council member Phee Boon Poh as being a “penahanan haram oleh SPRM” (illegal detention by MACC), is ill-advised.
Ramkarpal Singh, lawyer and DAP’s Bukit Gelugor member of parliament, said there could be no doubt that the statement was made having regard to the prevailing circumstances, and as such, was certainly justified.
“The MACC should cease and desist from issuing baseless threats to the chief minister.
“Instead, it should explain how information regarding the freezing of four bank accounts of Phee was leaked and made public. Since the said information was obtained directly by MACC there is an irresistible inference that the leak must have been caused by MACC as well.
“It is baffling as to how the MACC could have allowed such information to reach the public domain, as not only can this jeopardise investigations but it can also endanger the lives of Phee and his family.
“In the circumstances, I can see no reason for the chief minister to respond to such a baseless ultimatum by the MACC, although it is open for him to do so. On the contrary, an explanation ought to come from the MACC for the reason stated above,” he said in a statement posted on his official Facebook account.
The MACC had on Friday given Lim 48 hours to apologise for describing the recent arrest of state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh as “illegal detention”.
The MACC which claimed that Lim’s statement was slanderous, had said that it would initiate legal action against Lim if he failed to apologise within the stipulated time.
Lim has not offered any apology since.
Ramkarpal said it must be noted that Judicial Commissioner Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed, in setting aside the five-day remand order issued against Phee and two others on Aug 12, had effectively ruled that the detention of the trio, based on the detention order, was illegal since the detention was based on an invalid order.
“Since the trio were detained based on an invalid order, the effect of the learned judicial commissioner’s decision was that they were indeed detained illegally by the MACC 24 hours after their arrest.
“In the circumstances, there can be no doubt that the chief minister was justified in describing the detention as illegal,” he said.
Ramkarpal said it was obvious that Lim was not saying that the arrest of the trio was illegal since he did not use the words “penangkapan haram”.
In other words, it is clear that Lim was referring to the continued detention of the trio 24 hours after their arrest by the MACC, which was clearly based on an invalid order.
“The position is further compounded by the fact that the officer who appeared on behalf of the MACC at the remand proceedings on Aug 12 actually conceded that the learned senior assistant registrar had erred in issuing the five-day remand order without affording counsel for the trio a right to be heard,” he said.
Ramkarpal said the MACC further claimed to have filed a notice of appeal against the decision of the judicial commissioner to the Court of Appeal, and warned that commenting on the decision may be in contempt of court as the matter may be subjudice.
“To date, I can confirm that neither Phee or his lawyers have received a copy of the notice of appeal, and as such are not aware that such notice has been filed as claimed by the MACC.
“In the circumstances, the question of the chief minister making comments which may be subjudice, and possibly being in contempt of court, does not arise for the simple reason that the MACC has not even bothered to notify Phee or his lawyers that it has appealed against the said decision.
“Even assuming commenting on the detention order is subjudice, how can the chief minister be said to be in contempt of court if he is not aware that an appeal is pending since we have not been served the notice of appeal?” he asked.
Phee was detained on Aug 11 to assist investigations into an illegal factory processing carbon filters in Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.
The Sungai Puyu assemblyman is being investigated under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 for abuse of power for gratification.
On Aug 14, a High Court here set aside the five-day remand order MACC had obtained for Phee and two others from a lower court.
Source: NST Online