GEORGE TOWN, Sept 26 -- The Sessions Court today allowed the prosecution's application to transfer the case of an assistant director at the Penang National Registration Department (NRD) and five others on charges under Section 26E of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act 2007 (Act 670) to the High Court.
The charges are in connection with the issuance and sale of illegal MyKads to foreigners.
The case came up for hearing before Judges Norsalha Datuk Hamzah and Mazdi Abdul Hamid in two different sessions courts and both judges allowed the case to be transferred to the High Court after listening to arguments from the both the prosecution and defence teams.
Last week, the defence team objected to the deputy public prosecutor's proposal to move the case to the High Court. The court then fixed today to hear arguments from both sides.
On Sept 12, assistant director Mohd Faizul Ariffin, and Loh Chan Cheong, 34, Chien Guan Chai, 36, Yap Cheng Wah, 43, and Mohd Faizal Tan Abdullah, 66, were charged with two main offences under Section 26E of Atipsom Act while businessman Datuk Lai Chin Wah, 56, was accused of committing three offences under the same section.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim, in presenting his submissions, had argued that the prosecution had the prerogative to transfer the case to the high court.
He said the prosecution had applied for permission under Section 177A of the Criminal Procedure Code to move the case to the High Court for trial under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
Meanwhile, Datuk Ranjit Singh Dhillon, the counsel for Chien and Mohd Faizal Tan, asked the court to dismiss the prosecution’s application.
“The accused had been charged under Section 26E (of Act 670) which is not a security offence. If Sosma applies, it must then be decided first," he said.
Mohd Faizul also faces four charges of falsifying birth certificates and identity cards (MyKads) as well as five counts of issuing MyKads to foreigners.
Lai, Loh and Yap were also charged with two counts of falsifying birth certificates and MyKads as well as abetting Mohd Faizul to falsify documents, while Chien faced four similar charges.
For the two main charges, Mohd Faizul was charged with issuing false birth certificate and MyKad under the name of Ewe Chor Beng to facilitate the smuggling of migrants at the Penang NRD headquarters in Bangunan Persekutuan, Jalan Anson between January and February 2019.
Loh, Chien, Yap and Mohd Faizal Tan were respectively charged with selling a birth certificate and MyKad under the name of Ewe Chor Beng around Georgetown during the same period.
Lai was charged with three counts of selling a birth certificate, MyKad and passport under the name of Ewe Chor Beng around Georgetown between January and March 2019.
All the charges are under Section 26E of the Atipsom Act which carries a minimum jail term of seven years and not exceeding 15 years and a fine of not less than RM50,000 or both on conviction.
Meanwhile, Mohd Faizul also pleaded not guilty to four charges of falsifying birth certificates and MyKads under the name of Ewe Chor Beng and Tan Xiu Xiu at the Penang NRD headquarters in Bangunan Persekutuan, Jalan Anson here between January and May 2019.
Lai, Loh and Yap pleaded not guilty to two charges of falsifying a birth certificate and MyKad in the name of Ewe Chor Beng as well as abetting Mohd Faizul to falsify documents at the same place between January and February 2019.
Chien also pleaded not guilty to four charges of falsifying birth certificates in the name of Ewe Chor Beng and Tan Xiu Xiu and abetting Mohd Faizul to falsify documents at the same place from January to May 2019.
For all the charges, the accused were charged under Section 466 of the Penal Code read with Section 109 of the Penal Code and could be jailed a maximum of seven years and fined, if found guilty.
Mohd Faizul also pleaded not guilty to five charges under Regulation 25(1) (i) of the National Registration Regulations 1990 for issuing MyKads in the names of Tan Xiu Xiu, Lim Hock Eng, Ewe Chor Beng, Yang Xiaohong and Pheh Jin Leong at the Penang NRD headquarters, Bangunan Perseketuan, Jalan Anson, here between Sept 20 2018 and May 3 2019.
All the accused, if convicted, face a maximum jail term of three years or a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or both.