Dr Sim Vs Chong: Defence counsel and witness clash over meaning of allegedly defamatory posts

Shankar Ram (left) is seen talking with Dr Annuar (right).

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Sept 13: The cross-examination of Nangka assemblyman Annuar Rapa’ee continued in the Kuching High Court today in a defamation legal suit brought by Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian against Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

The trial centres on the Facebook posts made by Chong in April 2020, which allegedly contained defamatory remarks against Dr Sim.

Today’s cross-examination by the defendant’s counsel Michael Kong, aimed to clarify the meaning and content of the Facebook posts.

One of the contentions revolved around the translation and interpretation of the alleged Facebook posts. Dr Annuar, who admitted to not understanding the Mandarin language, was shown an English translation provided.

Dr Annuar conceded that the plaintiff’s name was not mentioned in the first Facebook post dated April 15, 2020. However, he argued that the post was directed at specific political parties and not necessarily individuals.

Referring to the second Facebook post dated April 18, 2020, Dr Annuar disagreed that the defendant did not allege the money was deposited in any ADUN’s service centre’s bank account. The defense also sought to clarify the distinction between “managed” and “deposited into” in the Facebook posts. Annuar argued that while the term “managed” was used, it did not imply that the funds were already deposited into accounts.

The cross-examination continued with a focus on whether the defendant’s Facebook posts were meant to be taken as direct allegations against Dr Sim, with both legal teams presenting their interpretations of the allegedly defamatory social media posts.

Referring to an official letter dated March 31, 2020, which pertained to a food aid allocation policy, Kong sought clarification on whether the original policy is to allow all 82 ADUNs, regardless of whether they were Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) or non-GPS representatives, to have RM200,000 in food aid allocation to purchase food items for distribution to needy families in their respective constituencies. The witness maintained that he did not use the term “original policy” but was open to using “initial” instead.

Dr Annuar held firm in his assertion that not all constituencies had received the allocation.

Kong also challenged Dr Annuar on his use of the word “prepare” in his witness statement regarding the allocation policy. Kong inquired whether “purchase” would have been a more appropriate term. Annuar however remained firm on his choice of words.

On April 21, 2020, DrnSim initiated legal action against Chong and several state DAP leaders over alleged defamatory statements over the allocation of funds for food assistance amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Dr Sim’s lawyer had issued a letter of demand dated April 30,2020 and the letter was served on Chong on May 2, demanding an apology from the latter and payment of damages to be made within seven days from the date of the letter or before May 7, 2020.

Chong had instructed his counsels to counter-claim and claim against Dr Sim for making allegedly defamatory statements against Chong.

Chong alleged Dr Sim who is also the Batu Kawah assemblyman had wrongfully took control of the Covid-19 food aid allocation amounting to RM800,000 for four State constituencies.

Dr Sim was claimed by the DAP leader to also have taken control of the allocations for the constituencies of Padungan, Batu Lintang, Pending and Kota Sentosa with the total allocation of RM1 million for all five constituencies.

Dr Sim was represented by counsels Shankar Ram, Russell Lim and Yiu Ying Ying whereas Chong was represented by counsels Chong Siew Chiang, Kong, Brenda Chong and Sim Kiat Leng. — DayakDaily