KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian finance minister and former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng was acquitted on Monday (Sep 3) by the Penang High Court of corruption charges involving the purchase of a bungalow in Penang.
He was acquitted along with businesswoman Phang Li Khoon, after the prosecution asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
The move came after Malaysia's Attorney General’s Chambers withdrew the charges.
Lim was arrested, along with Phang, by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in 2016 and charged with two counts of abusing his position in approving a land deal and in the purchase of a bungalow in Penang at below market price.
Speaking to reporters outside the courts, Lim said that he was very grateful that what he described as "selective prosecution" was finally over.
“Now we can clear our name, we know it was from the previous regime. Today Phang and I were prepared for any kind of possibility," added Lim.
“I am grateful to God, my lawyers, my family members who always stand together with me, as well as my supporters who have been with me,” he said, adding that he will hold an event to celebrate.
“I am also very grateful to Malaysians because although I have been slandered with these allegations, they still strongly support my leadership, thanks to my party, the leaders who stick with me, without doubting or questioning me as a clean leader,” he said.
The MACC said that it was "very surprised" by the decision of the court to free both Lim and Phang, stressing that it was the Attorney General’s Chambers’ decision, not theirs, to withdraw the case.
Phang is the former owner of Lim's Pinhorn Road bungalow, which the latter purchased for RM2.8 million (US$679,000) in July 2015.
Lim, who is also the secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), had pleaded not guilty to both charges, saying these were "politically motivated".
Leaders from the Pakatan Harapan coalition had also condemned the legal action against Lim.
Senior DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said in 2016 that the move was part of concerted efforts "to destroy the opposition and defend" the political position of former prime minister Najib Razak, who was under fire over 1MDB money-laundering probes.