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By Dorcas Ting
KUCHING, Oct 4: Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president Dato Richard Wee stressed that none of his companies has any business interests with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
Wee said this during cross-examination in the defamation suit filed by Wee against Michael Kong who is a special assistant to Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
Kong had allegedly made defamatory remarks about Wee in a Facebook post on July 21, 2020.
High Court Judge Justice Dr Alwi Abdul Wahab who is presiding over the case has fixed this week, from Oct 4 to 7, to hear this case.
Wee was the fifth witness called by the plaintiff and was crossexamined by the defendant’s counsel, Chong.
During the cross-examination today, Wee confirmed that transaction for the purchase of Layang-Layang Aerospace Sdn Bhd’s shares by Hubline Berhad was completed on May 15, 2019 and Layang-Layang’s main business is as a general aerospace service provider, which provides general chartering air services, flying doctor service, aerial mapping and surveys and also a flying academy operating out of Ipoh, Perak.
Besides that, when Chong referred to part of the 2019 Annual Report of Hubline Berhad which states “During the year under review, some of our most commonly carried out industrial aviation services were Emergency Medical Services (“EMS”) in Sabah and Sarawak”, Chong asked were these EMS provided by the Layang-Layang Aerospace Sdn Bhd is one of the main business operations by the company which generates revenue for Hubline Berhad.
Wee disagreed with the statement and replied: “The EMS is part of the aviation services provided by Layang-Layang. I would not say that this is the main business operation.”
When Chong asked Wee whether the client for these EMS services in Sarawak the State government of Sarawak, Wee answered, “No”. Wee explained that the main client for these EMS services as well as the flying doctor service was the Ministry of Health under the federal Government which awarded all the contracts.
Wee also said that in Hubline Berhad’s management report, when they say that Layang-Layang will attempt to establish a presence in offshore industrial aviation services within the oil and gas industry in Malaysia, they were referring to their attempt to establish and bid for the services to be provided to Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), Shell, Petronas Carigali, Murphy Oil, and PTTEP, where all these oil and gas companies have exploration activities and management of oil rigs. State-owned Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros), is a regulatory body without the above operations, and herefore, Petros will not be Layang-Layang’s client.
Wee further said that the company’s intention is to provide services to those companies in transporting their engineers and technical personnel.
Wee also stressed during the cross-examination, none of his companies has any business interests with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
He also answered in the negative to Chong’s question suggesting it is in Wee’s business interest that GPS continue to be part of the federal government so that his company’s contracts and business interests would not be disrupted. Wee disagreed and stressed that Hubline and Supreme Consolidated has never been awarded any contract from the federal government before the acquisition of Layang-Layang and the flying doctor services contract has been awarded to Layang-Layang before that and that its recent contract renewal actually occurred during the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government era.
When Wee was referred to the news report relating to his political stand and in relation to apolitical matter that was published on a local news website, he said the matter referred to in the news report is an interview by the daily’s reporter seeking the view of the Chinese community in view of the coming state election. Wee stressed that he did not express his political stand during that interview.
He said he was only reflecting the views and feedback from the community, of their feelings and inclination where the community have expressed that they have been disappointed and felt angry that promises made by the PH government were not fulfilled and they felt cheated and shortchanged in particular with the PH government’s promised recognition of the Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC), the 20 per cent of oil revenue, and 50 per cent of tax revenue.
“In contrary, the Sarawak government has since recognised UEC and allowed UEC certificate holders to join the state civil service. They have continued to provide annual grants to the 14 Chinese independent schools in Sarawak and the annual grant this year is RM10 million. Also a piece of land had been allocated to the Sarawak Chinese independent school board for their future development to supplement their income.
“Over and above that the Sarawak government has established a special unit, Unifor (Unit For Other Religions) to assist all other religious bodies in their maintenance and extension of their respective house of worship. All these initiatives has been the long awaited dream and wishes of the community,” Wee added.
He said when comparison is drawn, the Sarawak government has fulfilled the request of the community but the PH government has failed to fulfil their promises and the community felt strongly that they have been cheated and were being lied to by the PH government.
“It is because of that this is the sentiment of the community and have been the talk and the topic of their conversation. I have been informed and have received feedback from the community. That is why during the interview I have shared the views from the community. ”
During the earlier cross-examination, Wee said that Hubline Berhad had acquire 51 per cent of Layang-Layang Aerospace Sdn Bhd via a buyout of existing shares from two shareholders.
Kong had on July 21, 2020 uploaded a Facebook post allegedly containing a defamatory element: “Before Dato Richard Wee purports to speak on behalf of the Chinese community in support the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak), he should declare his personal and business interest with the current GPS government particularly Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB). ”
Wee through his Counsel Shankar Ram Asnani is pursuing legal action against Kong for general damages, aggravated damages, exemplary damages for libel and malicious falsehood and an injunction to restrain the defendant from publishing, causing to be published, circulating and distributing the said post.
Shankar Ram has also applied for an order directing the defendant Kong to publish an apology in a manner approved by the plaintiff or by the Court and for the same to be published once in on English language newspaper and one Chinese language newspaper, with circulation in Sarawak, of the plaintiff’s choice at the defendant’s cost and once on the defendant’s Facebook Account with costs on a solicitor-client basis or costs.
Kong’s allegedly defamatory post was in response to a news article by a local daily reporting Wee as stating it is likely that more urban and Chinese voters in Sarawak would support GPS in the upcoming Sarawak election due to the commitment shown by the ruling coalition to fight for Sarawak’s rights.
In response, Kong released the said defamatory statement via Facebook that Wee should declare his personal and business interests with the current GPS government, particularly PBB.
Wee was represented by Shakar Ram, Yu Ying Ying and Russel Lim whereas Kong was represented by Chong and Sim Kiat Leng. — DayakDaily