Dr Sim vs Chong: Former Padungan rep’s role as witness ends, 10th witness Tan Kai called to the stand

The Kuching Court Complex. File Photo

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, March 25: In the defamation suit filed by SUPP president Dr Sim Kui Hian against DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen over an alleged defamatory statement regarding the allocation of funds for food assistance amid the Covid-19 crisis, former assemblyman for N9 Padungan, Wong King Wei, continued to testify at the court today.

During the re-examination of Wong King Wei by counsel for the plaintiff Shankar Ram, the former asked Wong why he was willing to be a witness in this present action. Wong stated that he was approached by the counsel for the plaintiff to testify because his name was mentioned by Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee in his press statement on April 12, 2020.

When asked why he said, “I remembered the defendant stated that this is a political competition between DAP and the state government and particularly against SUPP,” Shankar requested Wong to explain what he meant by “political competition.”

Wong replied that they were instructed by the defendant to act faster than the state government in distributing food aid to undermine their efforts in helping the people in need.

He stated that the defendant’s intention was to win the political competition against the state government, especially SUPP. This was meant to create a negative impression of the Sarawak government and SUPP, suggesting that they were inefficient and uncaring towards the people. The purpose behind this was to help DAP and the defendant gain a political advantage in the case.

Counsel Shankar then referred Wong to his answer during the cross-examination where he disagreed that the food aid distribution by DAP Sarawak was necessary. He stated that at that particular time, many of the people who needed help had already received assistance from the government. Shankar asked him to further explain, and Wong clarified that the people on the ground were not left without help, and the state government did not discriminate against those in need of food aid.

Wong explained that the food aid programme carried out by the state government was fair, fast, and efficient. He disagreed with the question posed because the state government’s food aid programme had assisted those in need, and he had not received any complaints regarding the distribution conducted by the dtate government.

Wong also disagreed with the statement that “many members of the public still needed food aid assistance” because the state government’s food aid program was efficiently carried out, and there were no complaints on the ground regarding the distribution conducted by the state government.

Shankar referred Wong to his previous answer where he disagreed with the question regarding the official letter dated March 31, 2020. The letter mentioned that each State Legislative Assemblyman/Assemblywoman would be granted RM200,000 to purchase essential food items for distribution to needy families during the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of whether they were GPS or non-GPS ADUNs. Wong explained that none of the ADUNs, whether GPS ADUNs or opposition ADUNs, received an allocation of RM200,000 for each constituency for the purpose of purchasing food aid.

He stated that the Divisional Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) was the agency responsible for managing, controlling, receiving allocation funds, and making payments for the purchase and arrangement of food aid distribution. Wong mentioned that it was a good policy by the state government not to channel the allocation for the purchase of food aid directly to individual ADUNs or their service centers. This approach helped ensure transparency and proper fund management.

He also clarified that the plaintiff’s service center was never allocated a total sum of RM1 million for the purchase of essential food.

He also stated that both non-GPS ADUNs and GPS ADUNs were not provided with a fund of RM200,000 for the purchase of food aid.

However, he clarified that the food aid distribution was handled and managed by the DDMC without any discrimination across all 82 constituencies.

He further mentioned that the people of Padungan had benefited from the food aid distribution without any complaints.

Both parties concluded their examinations of Wong King Wei as a witness for the plaintiff, and Wong was subsequently released as a witness.

The plaintiff called the 10th witness, Tan Kai, chairman of Padawan Municipal Council, today.

High Court Judge Haji Alwi, who presided over the case, scheduled the continuation of the trial for July 17 and 18, as well as Aug 7 to 9 and Aug 14 to 17. — DayakDaily