Elect yourself as counsel or hire law firm to defend you – Court tells Chong

From left ... Chong Siew Chiang, Chong Chieng Jen and Michael Kong.

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Jan 8: High Court Judicial Commissioner (JC) Alexander Siew How Wai today ruled that Sarawak DAP Chairman Chong Chieng Jen who wanted to act as his own defence counsel in a defamation suit filed against him, either he elects himself or engage a law firm.

The suit is brought against Chong by the Sarawak Government and the State Financial Authority over the alleged “black hole” remake he is alleged to have uttered on the missing RM11 billion from the state’s coffers.

JC Alexander Siew also fixed January 12 to hear the decision of Chieng Jen.

Chong Chieng Jen who is also Stampin MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman told the reporters after the Court had adjourned, that in today’s Court decision, the Court ruled that in the event that Chieng Jen engages a firm, he will not have the right to cross-examine the witnesses in Court; if he acts in person, his counsels will not have the right to cross-examine the witnesses.

He said he will have discuss with his counsels on what option to take.

He said the decision today will hamper to some extent his preparation for the case, addressing the court, the submissions and cross-examining of the witnesses.

“But we respect the decision of the judge and will make an appropriate decision to proceed with the case.

“We will not make any appeal for the mere fact that any appeal will delay the trial. I want this case to finish as soon as possible.”

He said, from 2006 to 2013, the sum of approximately RM11 billion has been approved and allocated to the Government Contribution Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund.

He further said, since the beginning of this suit, the speaker of Dewan Undagan Negeri (DUN) has used the case to stop him from further questioning the issue at the state assembly on grounds of sub judice.

He believed since 2013 or 2014 until now, another RM10 billion had been approved and allocated and gone into this account.

“So I think Sarawakians have right to know. I want this case over so I am entitled to go into Dewan to further pursue this matter.”

The court was supposed to proceed with the case today.

The plaintiffs of this case represented by the Sarawak Attorney General’s Chambers stated that Chong should either elect himself or let his counsels act for him.

Earlier on, Chieng Jen told the reporters at the Kuching High Court complex that this issue has come about because he had cross-examined two witnesses from the plaintiff’s side yesterday.

He said his position is that when he appointed Chong Brothers Advocates as his counsel, he at the same time is also a lawyer in that firm.

“So I have two positions, ie the defendant and also a lawyer in a firm that I had appointed to act for me. So this is our position.”

He said, the other issue is that this case involves a lot of what transpired in DUN, the budget and accounting practices.

“I will be in a position to assist the court.”

On April 3, 2013, the State Government and State Financial Authority sued Chong in the Kuching High Court for defamation over his statement to the media and in pamphlets distributed that RM11 billion of the State budget had mysteriously disappeared into the black hole. He is alleged to have made this accusation in the media on January 3, 2013.

The case started yesterday and two witnesses were called in to give their evidence yesterday.

The plaintiffs of this case are the Sarawak Government and the State Financial Authority represented by the State Attorney General’s Chambers, Dato Sri JC Fong, Mohd Azdrul Azlan, Voon Yan Sin and Oliver Chua. – DayakDaily