Dr Sim vs Chong: Witness testifies supplier claims and payments processed by DDMCs

The court complex in Kuching.

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By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, June 30: Divisional Disaster Management Committees (DDMCs) processed claims by suppliers of food aid distributed as part of the State government’s Covid-19 response, and subsequently made out the payments.

Nicholas Sia, 62, director of the Administrative Unit under the Sarawak Premier’s Office confirmed the flow of monies in respect of the Covid-19 food aid allocation would be first, the administration unit will issue a departmental warrant of RM16.4 million to the State Implementation and Monitoring Unit (SIMU). Then, SIMU will prepare payment vouchers to the 12 DDMCs accounts based on the allocation of RM200,000 per constituency to all 82 State constituencies. The DDMCs then will process the claims made by suppliers for the food aid items and payments will be made out by the DDMCs.

Sia also confirmed that the name of the 12 divisions in Sarawak and their respective constituencies were listed under the column “Bahagian” in the table titled “Maklumat Akaun Jawatankuasa Bencana Bahagian” (Account information of divisional disaster committee).

He explained that based on the first row of the payment voucher, where it says “Maklumat Akaun Jawatankuasa Bencana Bahagian”, the first column with the title “Bahagian” means these are the 12 divisions and not referring to the divisional disaster management committee (DDMC).

He confirmed that each division in Sarawak would have its own DDMC therefore it is correct to say that there are 12 DDMCs in Sarawak.

He also agreed that the 12 DDMCs in Sarawak can be identified as DDMCs from the respective divisional names.

Based on the information in the 12 payment vouchers that the witness had tendered in court as evidence for this case, he confirmed that there are four State constituencies for Kapit Division, which are N.61 Pelagus, N.62 Katibas, N.63 Bukit Goram and N.64 Baleh and the amount as shown at the payment voucher that was released to the Kapit DDMC was RM800,000.

He said based on the information on the evidence, the State constituencies for DDMC Miri are Lambir, Piasau, Senadin, Marudi and Mulu and based on the information N.71 Bekenu is under DDMC Miri as well are N.77 Telang Usan and N.74 Pujut. This, based on the payment voucher, the amount of RM1,600,000 was released to DDMC of Miri.

He also confirmed that under the Kuching DDMC, there are 16 State constituencies, which are N.1 Opar, N.2 Tasik Biru, N.3 Tanjung Datu, N.4 Pantai Damai, N.5 Demak Laut, N.6 Tupong, N.7 Samariang, N.8 Satok, N.13 Batu Kitang, N.14 Batu Kawah, N.9 Padungan, N.10 Pending, N.11 Batu Lintang, N.12 Kota Sentosa, N.18 Serembu and N.19 Mambong.

With regards with the RM16.4 million that was disbursed to SIMU and subsequently to the 12 DDMCs, the reports as to how the money was used for food aid are presented by way of bills for payment to the treasury department before the treasury makes payments to suppliers for the said food items.

As to whether the payments were made by the respective DDMCs, Sia said the treasury department is the body which made the payments to the suppliers for the food aid. He said as these are the technical operational task of payment, he was not in the know on how it was done as this was done by account clerks or accountants.

The basic flow of how payment is made from the DDMCs’ accounts in the district, the payment vouchers will be prepared and submitted to the respective divisional treasuries for payment to the suppliers of the food aid. As to the details of coding, preparing payment vouchers and getting payment vouchers through the State’s integrated financial budgeting system and payment are the operational task by the account clerks or the accountants.

He further explained that the District Office will prepare the payment vouchers based on the bills submitted by suppliers and from there the District Office will submit the payment vouchers together with the supporting bills to the treasury department for the treasury department to prepare payment to the suppliers.

He said treasury department referred to the divisional treasury department. It is a State treasury department. Sarawak Treasury is a whole entity and is has divisional State treasury departments in each division.

When asked if he knew of any reports that were ever laid before the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) or made known to the elected State representatives (ADUNs) in any DUN sitting, he said the source of funds used is the State Disaster Relief Funds and based on the direction as set out by State Disaster Relief Funds Direction 1999 made under section 4(3) of the Financial 20 Procedure (Contigencies and Trust Funds) Ordinance and Para 8 of that State Disaster Relief Funds. In this respect, his unit had submitted the 2020 statement of accounts audited by the Auditor General and was given a clean bill of account. At this point in time he has no information whether the statement has been laid on the table of DUN.

Sia was the third witness in the defamation suit filed by Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim Kui Hian against Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen over an alleged defamatory statement over the allocation of funds for food assistance amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

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