I’m not sure of bungalow price — witness

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 27, 2018.
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GEORGE TOWN: The graft trial of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng opened yesterday with the first witness admitting to be unclear about the details of a house purchase that is at the centre of the trial.

Online marketing agent Muhsin Lahteef told the High Court he was unsure about the details of the purchase in his report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Cross-examined by Guan Eng’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Muhsin said he was not sure of the value at which Guan Eng had bought the bungalow, or the date of the purchase.

Muhsin, whose MACC report on March 18, 2016 launched an investigation by the commission into Guan Eng’s purchase of the bungalow in Jalan Pinhorn here, said that he was also not familiar with sale and purchase agreements and property transactions.

The 34-year-old told Judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail that he lodged the report after watching a video on a parliamentary debate between Tasek Gelugor member of parliament Datuk Shabudin Yahaya and Guan Eng over the alleged undervalued bungalow transaction in 2015.

“I wanted to give Guan Eng the opportunity to clear his name,” said Muhsin, also known as ‘Mamu Parpu’ on social media.

He denied that he is a Barisan Nasional supporter although his Instagram handle says #kamigangNajib (We are Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s gang).

Muhsin said that he was uncertain about the exact terms of Guan Eng’s S&P transaction although his report states 2008. This is contrary to Shabudin’s statement in parliament that Guan Eng bought the house in 2015.

Last June 30, Guan Eng pleaded not guilty to two corruption charges, concerning his alleged involvement in the conversion of a piece of land from agricultural status to residential, and for allegedly buying a bungalow below market value.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, Guan Eng is alleged to have used his position as chief minister to gain gratification for himself and his wife by approving an application to convert the land to public housing in Balik Pulau for Magnificent Emblem Sdn Bhd.

Guan Eng is alleged to have committed the offence when chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

He can be jailed up 20 years and fined up to five times the sum or value of the bribe.

In the second charge, he is alleged to have used his position to buy his bungalow on July 28, 2015 from Magnificent Emblem director Phang Li Koon for RM2.8 million, which is allegedly less than the RM4.27 million market value.