By Dorcas Ting
KUCHING, March 2: Former permanent secretary Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing Women, Family and Childhood Development Dr Sa’adiah Abdul Samat has produced a report regarding the number of households or beneficiaries that benefited from the food supply committee that was set up by the Sarawak Cabinet in 2020 due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Dr Sa’adiah, who is the first witness of the defamation suit filed Sarawak United People Party (SUPP) Dato Sri Sim Kui Hian to sue Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak Chong Chieng Jen over a Facebook post posted by Chong and the press statement authored by the defendant on April 2020, during the cross-examination today told the Court that the report was produced in the last meeting of the food supply committee on April 29, 2020.
During the cross-examination by the defendant’s counsel, Michael Kong, Dr Sa’adiah told the Court that as of April 29, 2020 the total number of households or beneficiaries that have received the food aid during the emergency crisis was 380,568.
All Divisional Disaster Management Committees (DDMC) in 12 divisions throughout Sarawak have distributed food to the needy in all 82 constituencies.
She also said that there were no complaints received from the public by the committee indicating that they did not receive any food aid during the emergency crisis except from Chong and his team.
She stated that she believed if there was any discrimination and manipulation on the ground of people not given food aid, the committee would have known, especially regarding those who used social media to demonstrate their dissatisfaction against the Sarawak government or the ADUN members or even public servants.
She further told the Court if there is truly a mismanagement and mishandling on the use of the said fund, the public would have gone to submit their reports to the police or even the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
She also told the Court that the food chain supply committee was set up because of the MCO that was implemented by the Federal government and at that point in time, the committee was also considering the upcoming festive season to make sure that there was sufficient food supply.
She said the food aid programme that was initiated to provide food to the needy during the crisis was one of the agendas to alleviate the suffering of the needy during the Emergency.
She said the food supply chain committee was set up by the Cabinet and Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan was the chairman appointed by the cabinet. The Cabinet also decided that the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development was to be appointed as the secretariat to the committee to help manage and monitor whatever decisions made.
She also confirmed that there were two letters issued by the Food Supply Chain Committee secetariat to the ADUNS on March 31, 2020. The first letter stated that each constituency will be granted an allocation of RM200,000 for the purpose of food supply.
However, on the same day, another letter was issued by the secretariat to all ADUNS revoking the first letter.
She said that was due to the change of government decision, specifically by the office of State Financial Secretary to ensure that the public funding were to be spent in compliance with financial regulations.
“As such, the committee, specifically the chairman of food supply chain committee was advised to channel and allocate the funds to DDMCs which are collectively chaired by the residents of all divisions in Sarawak and members comprise of those from State and Federal agencies, ADUN service centers, non-governmental organisations, community leaders and volunteer bodies/individuals.”
The cross-examination on Sa’adiah did not finish today. High Court Judge Alwi Abdul Wahab adjourned the trial to May 9 to 12 and June 27 to 30.
Dr Sim was represented by Counsels Shankar Ram Asnani, Dato Bong Ah Loi, Russel Lim and Yiu Ying Ying and whereas Chong was represented by Counsels Chong Siew Chiang, Kong and Sim Kiat Leng. — DayakDaily