‘Black hole’ suit aimed at silencing me — Chong

Chong exits the courtroom after yesterday’s proceeding

KUCHING: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen told the High Court here yesterday that the ‘black hole’ civil suit filed by the state government and Sarawak Financial Authority against him is intended to stop him from questioning the use of public funds.

“I feel that this action is a persecution specifically targeted at me and filed with the intention or motive to stop me from raising queries and questions on the use of a huge amount of public funds that has been allocated to this trust fund,” he said during cross-examination by his lawyer Michael Kong yesterday.

The trial took place before Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai, with Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Stampin MP, testifying as the defendant’s second witness.

Elaborating, Chong informed the court that the only thing the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) was told about the ‘Government Contribution Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund’ was that a huge amount of money had been used to repay loans taken up by companies owned by the Sarawak government.

“But the question as to how these companies used the proceeds of the loans, the projects undertaken by these companies, were not subject to the approval of the DUN, and there was also no accountability to the DUN in respect of how these companies used the proceeds of the loans.

“The way the public funds were managed, that is, using public funds to repay loans taken up by companies, the repayment of which was from public funds, is a way of circumventing the supervision of DUN over the management of public funds,” he said.

Adding on, Chong said such management of public funds does not comply with the basic and fundamental principle of accountability and transparency in any parliamentary democracy.

Kong also asked the assemblyman about the number of times he had raised the issue in the DUN, to which Chong replied: “Six times, in 2004, 2007 and 2012.”

Chong said despite this, he still did not get an answer or the identity of the approved agencies that received the money from the Trust Fund.

He explained that the distribution of leaflets and calling for press conferences were not intended to embarrass the plaintiffs, rather it was to compel them to respond to the people regarding the management of public funds.

“The people of Sarawak have the right to know how the government uses public funds,” he added.

Chong also denied the claim that his intention of issuing the statement that RM11 billion of government money was lost in a ‘black hole’ was to gain personal political support by damaging the
reputation and credibility of the plaintiffs.

“That is not true as well. I was just doing my duty as an elected member of the House,” he said.

When asked by Kong why he did not verify his allegation with the plaintiffs, Chong said he did but failed to get information from the DUN.

“I tried my best to obtain information from the DUN in respect of the identity of the recipients of the funds but to no avail, and the Minister of Finance, in replying to the questions asked by me in respect of the matter, was very evasive,” he said.

The hearing continues today with Chong set to testify again.

Besides Kong, also present to assist Chong in cross-examining the defendants were lawyers Sim Kiat Leng and Chong Siew Chiang.

Representing the plaintiffs are state legal counsel Dato Sri JC Fong and state legal officers Mohamad Adzrul Adzlan, Oliver Chua and Voon Yan Sin.

Chong is being sued for defamation by the Sarawak government and State Financial Authority (SFA) for using the term ‘black hole’ to insinuate that RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers in 2013.

His allegation was published in Sin Chew Daily News, Malaysiakini and in leaflets distributed by him and the DAP, and also published in the Rocket.


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