`The inside story of `Contributions Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund’ will be known soon’

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KUCHING, Sept 29: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen says the recent ruling of the Federal Court over his case will lead to the unveiling of the billion-dollar allocations that go to “Contributions Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund”, which until this year has amounted to RM18 billion.

He said the Federal Court also ruled that the Court of Appeal erred in making a judgement without a trial process; thus, referred the case back to the Kuching High Court.

With the case now back to the Kuching High Court, where a proper trial will he held, he believed the court’s process will allow him to have access to the information regarding the allocations to this fund.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP and state Pakatan Harapan chief, alleged that since the inception of this fund in 2006, huge amount had been channeled to it, yet no details were revealed to the public as to who were the “approved agencies” and how the money had been spent.

“Every year, since 2006, huge sums of Sarawak government’s fund is channelled or allocated to this fund.

“As the elected representative of Sarawak, its our duty to question where has this money gone. I asked questions of who are the ‘approved agencies’. The people of Sarawak want to know,” he told a press conference at the state DAP headquarters here today.

The image from part of the “The Budget Blackhole: Where has our RM11,000,000,000 gone?” pamphlet, where he listed out the total budget and amount allocated to the “Contributions Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund”.
According to Chong, as in 2018, the fund has an accumulated amount of RM18 billion.

Chong said for many years inside and outside the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, the state government had refused to disclose details with regards to the fund.

“As such, we came up with this method (referring to the pamphlet) to give further pressure to the government to disclose the whereabout of this money,” he said.

He pointed out that after he came out with the pamphlet, the state government (and the State Financial Authority) sued him for defamation.

“Before this, the state government demanded RM100 million as compensation,” said Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

He said over the years, he had been trying to use all means to obtain the information but failed. This case, he believed, will provide a good opportunity for him to obtain the information pertaining to the fund.

“I will instruct my lawyers in the interrogatory proceeding to get the information,” said Chong, who claimed that as of 2013, the accumulated amount in the fund was RM11 billion.

Between 2014 to 2017, another RM7 billion was injected, resulting in the most recent accumulation of RM18 billion.

“It may not be so much as compared to RM42 billion in 1MDB, but if you compare it to the state’s annual allocation, this is a huge sum. It amounts to 40 per cent of the total development budge of the state government,” said Chong.

The state government and the state Financial Authority sued Chong in 2013 after the “The Budget Blackhole: Where has our RM11,000,000,000 gone?” was published by the printed media, news portal and in a pamphlet that Chong and DAP distributed.

The Kuching High Court struck out the suit in 2014, citing that governments should not sue an individual.

The case was brought to the Court of Appeal, which ruled that public authorities could sue individuals for defamation. The case did not go through the trial proceeding.

The Federal Court recently upheld the decision of Court of Appeal that public authorities may sue an individual for defamation, but decided that a proper trial must be held.

The case has been fixed to be heard on Oct 3 at the Kuching High Court. — DayakDaily