By Dorcas Ting
KUCHING, June 17: The plaintiff in the Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas vs Sarawak PKR secretary Vernon Kedit defamation case today called eight witnesses to testify that they saw the alleged defamatory message in various forms.
Called to testify were Sin Chew Daily News chief reporter, Utusan Borneo chief reporter and a then freelance writer. The trio confirmed they were in the ‘PKR Swak state Media’ WhatsApp group chat and saw the alleged defamatory message but did not publish it.
The remaining five witnesses also testified they saw the message in a different WhatsApp group chat and on Vernon’s Facebook page.
For this round, the trial has been fixed for three days, until June 19, where the plaintiff will call eight witnesses, while the defendant will call three witnesses.
Vernon is being sued for allegedly questioning Uggah’s interpretation of ‘usufructuary right’ over the native customary rights (NCR) land issue and for allegedly calling Uggah a ‘traitor’ or ‘liar’ in the WhatsApp group chat.
Vernon received his Letter of Demand from Uggah’s lawyer on July 30, 2018, to retract the allegedly libellous statements and to offer a written apology to be published in newspapers in Sarawak.
The letter also demanded Vernon to promise not to make such statements against Uggah in the future, to pay all legal costs incurred and to pay a sum of not less than RM1 million in damages as compensation for allegedly defaming Uggah in the WhatsApp group chat.
The said allegation refers to the controversial Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018, that was passed in the State Legislative Assembly in 2018. Vernon opined that the amendment would gravely affect full ownership of ancestral native customary lands and native customary rights.
Uggah was represented by Sim Hui Chuang and Alex Lim Lip Sze, while Vernon was represented by Simon Siah, Desmond Kho and See Chee How. — DayakDaily