‘Sleeping Buddha’ thieves fined, one vows to hold prayer session (Updated)

GEORGE TOWN: A businessman involved in stealing a "Sleeping Buddha" statue with a company's executive is planning to hold a special prayer session at the Penang Buddhist Association (PBA) after being fined RM7,500 each in default of 12 months' jail term by the magistrate's court.

Lim Keng Liang, 37, said he wanted to hold the prayer session through his counsel, R. Puran, during mitigation after pleading guilty along with Lim Su-Quinn, 29, before magistrate Qasiratul Jannah Usmani Othman.

Puran said Keng Liang had repented and expressed remorse over his action.

He said his client, who did not have any criminal record, had learnt from his mistake and sought a lenient fine.

"He also shows his sincerity in wanting to hold a prayer session at the temple soon to seek forgiveness. He expresses hope he would be given a chance to change," Puran told the court.

Su-Quinn and Keng Liang admitted to stealing the statue at the PBA main prayer hall in Jalan Anson at 8.30am on Dec 11.

Both nodded when the charge for theft under the Penal Code was read to them by a court interpreter.

Counsel Jeffrey Ooi Ping Hong, who represented Su-Quinn, told the court it was his client's first offence.

He said Su-Quinn had cooperated with the police by turning herself in soon after the incident.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Atiqah Abdul Karim, who prosecuted the case, told the court to mete out appropriate punishment.

She said this case involved a place of worship and was of public interest.

On Dec 11, police revealed that a man and a woman had stolen the statue at about 8.30am based on the temple's closed-circuit television footage.

The video showed them carting away the statue worth RM10,000 by placing it in a bag before putting it into their car.

Initially, they had their remand order extended before being charged today.

Meanwhile, PBA president Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew said the statue will still be placed at the same place when it is returned to them.

"There is no need for it to be placed at another spot despite safety concerns. No reason for us to keep it elsewhere or lock it. The statue is for the devotees to pray," he said.

Khoo pointed out the CCTV cameras installed at several places inside the temple were enough for the temple workers to monitor its security.

He advised the public to refrain from taking away temple items.

Below is a video of the incident: