File photo showing Chong flanked by his counsels Siew Chiang (left) and Michael Kong, seen outside the High Court.
KUCHING (Jan 29): The High Court here today fixed March 1 to 12 for the continuation of trial for the ‘black hole’ case which the Sarawak government filed against state Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
The defamation case commenced trial on Jan 7 and was supposed to last until Jan 15, but had been postponed due to a Covid-19 positive case detected on a legal assistant who attended the court.
During the trial early this month, individuals including a journalist from Sin Chew Daily were called to the witness stand to testify for the plaintiff, which is represented by state legal counsel Dato Sri JC Fong as well as state legal officers Mohd Adzul Adzlan, Voon Yan Sin and Oliver Chua.
At the beginning of the trial, Chong was represented by lawyers from Chong Brothers Advocates including his father Chong Siew Chiang, Michael Kong and Sim Kiat Leng.
Chong himself was also allowed to act in person, which saw the father and son join hands in cross-examining the witnesses.
Upon the order of Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew on Jan 8, Chong decided to drop the legal firm and instead, defending himself in the case.
The court order was for him to decide to either continue appointing his legal firm to represent him or act in person for the conduct of the case.
Although Chong, who is Stampin MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman, decided not to be represented by his legal firm, he is allowed for having background assistance from his legal firm.
In 2013, Chong used the term ‘black hole’ to insinuate that a RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers.
His allegation was published in a Chinese national daily, a news portal, and in pamphlets distributed by himself and DAP Sarawak, and also published in the Rocket, Malaysiakini and Sin Chew Daily on Jan 3, 2013.
Because of this, the state government and the State Financial Authority (SFA) filed a defamation suit against him at the Hight Court here.
On Dec 18 last year, the High Court rejected Chong’s application to get the state government to disclose documents in relation to projects funded by the RM11 billion budget.
In dismissing the application, Siew Chang said he agreed with the government’s arguments that the documents, even if they existed, were irrelevant to the defamation case against Chong and not to be produced at the trial.