Sarawak DAP chairman: Full trial a chance to question state govt about ‘missing’ RM11b

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan leader Chong Chieng Jen (centre) said he welcomed the chance to get some answers when the state government’s civil suit against him goes to full trial at the High Court. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan leader Chong Chieng Jen (centre) said he welcomed the chance to get some answers when the state government’s civil suit against him goes to full trial at the High Court. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUCHING, Sept 29 — Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said he welcomed the chance to get some answers when the state government’s civil suit against him goes to full trial at the High Court.

Chong was responding to news today on the Federal Court decision that the government can sue for defamation.

He told reporters the trial will allow him “to get information which I have not able to get from the state government.”

Chong said Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nasar did not allow his questions to be raised at the State Legislative Assembly sitting at the Question and Answer session.

“When I raised the matter outside the state assembly, the state government refused to give the answers,” the Kota Sentosa state assemblyman and Stampin Member of Parliament said.

In 2013, the state government and the State Financial Authority sued Chong for defamation over allegations that RM11 billion had gone into a “black hole.”

The statement attributed to Chong was in reference to the alleged mismanagement of the state’s financial affairs.

The statement was published by a Chinese daily on January 3, 2013 and an online news portal on February 18, 2013. The allegation was also published in DAP leaflets, both in English and Chinese.

The suit filed by the state government and the state financial authority was dismissed by the High Court that decided that although the state government or a statutory body could sue or be sued, the right did not extend to the right to sue for defamation.

As a result, the state government and the state financial authority’s case against Chong was dismissed with costs.

At the Court of Appeal, the High Court’s decision was reversed and Chong was found liable for defamation and ordered that damage be assessed against him by the deputy registrar of the High Court.

On September 26, the apex court agreed with the CoA’s decision that the government could sue for defamation, but said the CoA had erred in entering the judgment against Chong.

The apex court has fixed October 3 for case management at the Kuching High Court.

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