Dr Sim vs Chong: Deputy Premier testifies as witness in court

Dr Sim (right) with counsel Shankar Ram (middle) outside the courtroom in Kuching on Dec 4, 2023.

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Dec 4: In the ongoing legal battle between the Sarawak United People Party (SUPP) and the Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chiefs, Dr Sim Kui Hian, representing SUPP, testified as a witness in court today.

Senior Counsel Shankar Ram conducted the examination-in-chief, focusing on prepared witness statements and objections raised by both parties.

Dr Sim, also Sarawak Deputy Premier, confirmed the amended witness statement (Encl. 158) and supplementary witness statement (Encl. 175), affirming that these statements were specifically prepared for the trial and validated their authenticity.

Chong Chieng Jen’s counsel, Michael Kong, informed the court that on December 1, a notice had been sent to the plaintiff’s advocate regarding objections to specific portions of the plaintiff’s amended witness statement.

The objections include concerns about translation, articles subsequent to the complained-of Facebook posts, articles not specifically targeting the plaintiff, and a press statement by the defendant deemed irrelevant.

Chong Siew Chiang, also representing Chong Chieng Jen, submitted that three essential elements in a defamation action include publication, reference to the plaintiff, and defamatory meaning.

He emphasised that the meaning must be drawn from the language of the passage in the impugned article. The cause of action for libel is based on the defendant’s two Facebook posts on April 15, 2020, and April 18, 2020.

Chong Siew Chiang argued that parties are bound by their pleaded cause of action and that subsequent statements to the publication are not admissible. He stressed that the meaning of the words complained of must be determined at the time of publication.

Shankar Ram, counsel for Dr Sim, objected, stating that the defendant’s press statement dated April 29, 2020, was republished in other news portals and expressly pleaded in the plaintiff’s statement of claim.

He argued that these documents are relevant to the pleaded issues, focusing on the continuous conduct of the defendant related to the first and second Facebook posts.

High Court Judge Haji Alwi Abdul Wahad overruled the objections raised by the defendant, except for issues related to translated documents by Lee Chai Sieng.

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