SANDAKAN August 28, 2012: The High Court set aside the acquittal of a local timber merchant from a charge of an attempt to cheat and issued an order for him to enter his defence.
Justice Supang Lian on Friday allowed the prosecution’s appeal against the Sessions Court’s decision acquitting timber merchant Michael Chia Tien Foh without his defence being called.
Lian later fixed September 12 for the case to be mentioned at the Sessions Court.
In the same proceedings, the court upheld the acquittal of timber merchant Lo Man Heng from the same charge, reasoning that the onus of proving the ‘umbilical cord’ linking Lo to the offence had not been discharged.
The Sessions Court on September 23, 2011 had acquitted and discharged Chia and Lo at the end of the prosecution’s case and ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a case against both.
Chia and Lo were jointly charged with an attempt to cheat Dato’ Agus Hassan from Syarikat Peluamas Sdn Bhd by deceiving the latter into believing that three conditions that had to be fulfilled in order to obtain the letter concerning the log operation of Coupe BW/12/02: Extraction and Purchasing of Commercial Timber at Hutan Simpanan Kalabakan, Sabah, namely to surrender the purchase of 100,000 cubic metres of logs signed on May 25, 2004 to Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd/Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Yayasan Sabah as a write off, to pay RM3 million for the purpose of a political fund for a Sabah party, and to pay a commission of RM25 per cubic metre for logs extracted by Syarikat Peluamas Sdn Bhd at Gunung Rara Forest Reserve (known as the Benta Wawasan coupe).
This had allegedly induced Agus through Chong Siak Nyen to deliver a power of attorney dated June 22, 2004 giving away the purchase of 100,000 cubic metres of logs to a company allegedly owned by a Sabah political party and to pay RM2.5 million allegedly towards a Sabah party’s political fund.
The offence was alleged to have been committed in Sandakan in June 2004.
Both accused persons were tried under Section 420 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 34 and Section 511 of the same Code.
Lo was originally charged at the Kota Kinabalu Sessions Courts for offences under Section 10(a)(aa) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.
His cases were transferred to the Sandakan Sessions Court on July 30, 2007 and subsequently consolidated with the cheating charge.
Deputy public prosecutors Anthony Kevin Morais and Joyce Blasius from the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) appeared for the appellants while Chia and Lo were represented by counsels Francis Wong and James Tsai respectively.
by Kelimen Sawatan