BUTTERWORTH: An officer with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) was jailed for a day and fined RM20,000 by the sessions court today for accepting bribes amounting to RM16,800.
She admitted accepting the money for approving renovations in pre-war shophouses in the heritage quarter in George Town.
MBPP’s heritage and conservation department assistant architectural officer Zamira Junned, 37, was charged with receiving the bribes between Jan 14, 2015 and Sept 22, 2016.
She admitted receiving sums ranging from RM1,000 to RM11,300 from five different parties. These were deposited into her account and that of her intermediary, Sobariah Ismail, at Maybank Islamic Berhad on Jalan Bagan Luar in Butterworth.
After she pleaded guilty, prosecutors dropped three of the five charges against her.
Of the five charges, four were related to the conversion of building use from residential to hotel, while one charge was related to a permit application to renovate a heritage building.
In the first charge, Zamira received RM1,000 from Muntri House owner Tan Yoke Chan who had applied to change the use of the shophouse from residential use to a hotel on April 11, 2015, through Sobariah.
In the second charge, she was accused of receiving RM1,000 from Reunion Heritage Sdn Bhd owner Khor Lor Wen to hasten the change of use of his building from residential use to a hotel from Aug 13, 2015 to Jan 18, 2016, through Sobariah.
In the third charge, Zamira was accused of receiving a RM1,500 cheque from BK Ooi Architect director Ooi Bok Kim on Sept 22, 2016, in their application to change the use of a shophouse from residential to hotel.
In the fourth charge, she was accused of receiving RM2,000 from Vintage Concept House business owner Cheah Lee Cheng through Sobariah.
In the fifth and final charge, she was accused of receiving RM11,300 from MF Base Construction owner Law Tek Leong from Jan 14, 2015, to Sept 15, 2016, to hasten a permit to renovate an unspecified heritage building, through Sobariah.
The charges , under Section 16 (a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Commission (MACC) Act 2009, carried a maximum sentence of 20 years’ jail and a fine of not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
An alternative charge of the same five charges was also read to Zamira, under Section 165 of the Penal Code, for receiving bribes.
She chose to plead guilty to the alternative charges under the Penal Code.
Deputy public prosecutor Selvaranjini Selvaraja requested the court to consider sentencing Zamira on two charges — involving the third and fourth charges, related to the bribe of RM1,500 given to her on Sept 22, 2016, and the RM2,000 bribe received between Oct 28, 2016 and Aug 22, 2016.
Before sentencing, Zamira, who was unrepresented, pleaded to the court not to jail her or she would lose her job with the MBPP.
She said that if she lost her job, she would lose city council-supported health coverage for her spouse, who is suffering from a heart condition and needed at least RM15,000 for surgery.
She said her husband had been unemployed since September and was the sole breadwinner at home, taking care of two young children aged 10 and 12, including her elderly parents and in-laws.
Judge Ahmad Azhari Abdul Hamid then sentenced Zamira to one day in jail and a RM20,000 fine.