KUCHING, May 5: DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen in pushing back against a lawsuit filed by Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian is planning to file a counterclaim and claim against him over several alleged defamatory statements as well.
“Since Dr Sim is minded to pursue legal action on those comments of mine, I will, after the MCO (Movement Control Order), instruct my lawyer to also counter-claim and claim against him on several of his defamatory statements against me.
“It is regrettable that instead of being transparent on the food aid allocation for Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang and Kota Sentosa (a total sum of RM800,000), Dr Sim, as a State Minister and also playing one of the leading roles in the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, refused to be held accountable for and to be transparent on the management of the said allocations,” he said in a statement today.
Dr Sim, who is Minister for Local Government and Housing, had started a legal action against several state Democratic Action Party (DAP) leaders over alleged defamatory statements over the allocation of funds for food assistance amid the Covid-19 crisis on April 21.
Chong acknowledged receiving the letter of demand from the Dr Sim’s lawyer, demanding an apology over his criticism on the discrimination by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government against the opposition lawmakers in terms of the food aid allocation last Saturday (May 2) afternoon.
“He (Dr Sim) has also demanded for payment of a certain sum in addition to the apology.
“The said letter of demand though dated April 30, 2020, was personally served on me on May 2, 2020 at my house and the demand made therein was for the apology and payment of damages within seven days from the date of the letter, ie. on or before May 7, 2020,” he said.
Chong thus criticised Dr Sim and his lawyer for failing to comply with the MCO regulation in serving the letter during the restriction period and questioned if they had the necessary permit from Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to operate.
Thus in a public statement replying to Dr Sim’s lawyer’s letter of demand, Chong stressed that his statements were targeted at the policy of the state government and not defamatory of Dr Sim.
“My criticism on the state government policy discriminating and denying the Opposition ADUNS for Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang and Kota Sentosa the allocation for food aids for their constituents and yet to allow Dr Sim and his service centre to decide on how to use the RM200,000 allocation each for DUN Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang and Kota Sentosa is a criticism on the policy of the state government.
“The words published by me are not defamatory of Dr Sim but are fair comments on the policies of GPS state government against the Opposition ADUNs and their constituents during this time of Covid-19 pandemic and economic hardship. He is part of the government which made such policies,” he said.
He also pointed out that the translation done to his statement was not accurate.
Chong said he believes that politicians must accept criticisms, especially those in the government when criticism is on the government policies, be it implemented by the lawmaker or otherwise.
“As a politician in power, one must always adhere to the fundamental of transparency, fairness and good governance,” he added. —DayakDaily