Five months after losing federal power, the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) is fighting to defend its chief Lim Guan Eng from corruption charges, amid claims of political persecution under the new Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
Both Lim, Malaysia’s former finance minister, and his wife Betty Chew are expected to face further charges tomorrow and on Tuesday.
Ms Chew’s lawyer, Mr Lee Khai, said on Friday that she will be charged in a Butterworth court on Tuesday under the anti-money laundering Act. It was unclear if this is related to a 2015 purchase of a heavily discounted bungalow for which Lim was charged in 2016, but with the case dropped in 2018.
Half of Lim’s RM1 million (S$327,000) bail was paid on Friday with funds borrowed from supporters, with the balance due tomorrow, said DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, who launched a fund-raiser yesterday.
“Any surplus received from the donations will go towards the general election to fight the backdoor (PN) government and return the mandate to Malaysians who voted for change in 2018,” said Mr Pua.
Lim’s father and veteran politician Lim Kit Siang said yesterday: “I am not surprised by Guan Eng’s arrest and prosecution, as this is to break his political spirit. The latest corruption charge against him is probably the first against a major political leader where no specific sum of corruption or gratification amount is mentioned, only a vague 10 per cent of future profits.
“I believe in my son that he neither asked for money nor received any money, as proven by the fact that no such corruption money was found on him in cash or in his personal bank account.”
The DAP is hoping that Malaysians, though tired of the endless bickering among politicians despite the Covid-19 pandemic, will jump to Lim’s defence, with the first indication being the sums that will be collected in the fund-raising effort.
The younger Lim revealed on Facebook on Friday that he slept on a wooden floor while being detained overnight in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) lock-up.
“I had to change to the (MACC) orange T-shirt and slept on the wooden floor in the small lock-up (no pillow, no mattress), unlike my predecessor who did not spend a single night in the lock-up,” he said, referring to former premier Najib Razak, who was arrested by the MACC in 2018 over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.
But MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki said: “There is no double standard issue, all slept in the same cell and no one received better treatment than the other.”
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad, an ally of Lim, said he believed that the charges were politically motivated. “We are inclined to think so,” he said when asked by reporters on Friday.