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By Dorcas Ting
KUCHING, July 5: The cousin-in-law of Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen and Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong were called to the stand by the defense yesterday (July 4) in the hearing of the defamation suit by Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president Dato Richard Wee against Sarawak DAP leader Michael Kong.
Kong had allegedly uploaded a defamatory Facebook post on July 21, 2020 about Wee.
The two witnesses were called to testify in response to the testimony by the plaintiff’s seventh witness, former Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei in court on November 18, 2021.
The first witness on the stand was Liew Joo Kong, the chair/CEO coach of Vistage Malaysia & Singapore.
During the cross-examination conducted by the plaintiff’s counsel Shankar Ram Asnani, Liew agreed that he was not giving evidence for the defamation case but instead was trying to respond against what the plaintiff had testified in court where his name was mentioned.
He also agreed that he was uncomfortable with the testimony given by Wong, where Wong answered in his testimony: “The brother-in-law of Mr Chong Chieng Jen, i.e. Mr Kiung Teck Chang is involved in the office of Deputy Minister in Putrajaya of Mr Chong Chieng Jen. There is another person by the name of Stanley, if I remember correctly, who is the cousin-in-law of Mr Chong Chieng Jen, who was appointed as a chairman of a government agency which I cannot recall the exact title of the agency, during the 22 months when PH (Pakatan Harapan) government is in power. Such appointment can be done with lighting speed but not the fulfilment of the promise to the people. That is the thing that I pondered about deeply.”
Liew also confirmed in court that he is Chieng Jen’s cousin-in-law and is related to Chieng Jen.
When queried if he was appointed as the director-general (DG) of Malaysia Pepper Board (MPB) under then minister for Plantation and Commodities Teresa Kok, who is also a member of DAP, Liew confirmed but denied that his appointment was political due to the fact that he is related to Chieng Jen, even though he admitted he was a DAP supporter.
When required of him to disclose his monthly remuneration package as the DG of MPB following a mix-up of the figures earlier, Liew produced to the Court a letter of his appointment including documents on the salary scale. He admitted that his total take-home pay was about RM30,000 before tax.
Shankar asked: “Do you agree that Exhibit D17 stand to correct your earlier evidence where it shows “Gaji Pokok” in the sum of RM20,592.00, “Imbuhan Tetap JUSA” in the sum of RM1,000.00, “Imbuhan Tetap Perumahan/Elaun Perumahan Wilayah” in the sum of RM1,300.00, “Imbuhan Tetap Keraian” in the sum of RM2,500.00, “Insentif Wilayah (12.5% dari gaji pokok)” in the sum of RM2,574.00, “Bayaran Pembantu Rumah” in the sum of RM500.00, “Bayaran meyelengara rumah (RM2,000.00 12 setahun)” in the sum of RM166.66 and lastly “Elaun tetap anggota Lembaga Pengarah” in the sum of RM2,935.80 which you said have been reduced to RM2,300.00 (which means about RM600.00 deduction per month) which means your total take home pay is about RM30,968.46 before tax. Do you agree?
Liew answered: “Yes. I agree.”
During the noon proceeding, Yong was sworn in as the second witness for the defense. When asked by the counsel for the defendant, Chieng Jen, by referring to Wong’s press statement when resigning from the party where he mentioned: “I am growing sick and tired of political means to seek survival. I am further disillusioned with the direction and the way the party have been managed, which has totally deviated from the aims, objective, and struggle in the earlier days when I first joined the party back in the year 2006”, if Wong ever discussed this matter with her, Yong replied in the negative.
She confirmed that Wong had never raised the issue for discussion in Sarawak DAP’s State Committee meeting.
When asked if Wong had behaved in any way that indicated his dissatisfaction with the party’s direction during PH’s time as the federal government, Yong said there were no signs at all.
“In fact, as late as February 2020, he still accepted the post of chairman of the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (LPKP), and he fought very hard for that post. He even sought help from Mr Chong Chieng Jen, the chairman for DAP Sarawak, to recommend his name for the post to the Ministry of Transport via the minister at that time, Anthony Loke.
“Knowing very well that Mr Chong Chieng Jen is a selfless leader, Mr Chong Chieng Jen submitted his name to the ministry for that post. If Wong King Wei was not happy about the party’s direction or even the leadership of Chong Chieng Jen, he would not have sought help from Chong Chieng Jen for the chairman post in LPKP and accepted the post in February 2020.”
When asked if she had anything to say about Wong’s given reasons for resigning from the party, Yong said his reasons could not be true.
“In the first instance, if he were not happy with the party’s direction and leadership of Chong Chieng Jen, he would have brought the matter up for discussion through the party channel, including raising it in the State Committee meeting, which he did not do so.
“Knowing very well Wong King Wei’s character, if he is not happy with anything, he usually will raise it when the matter was put up for discussion in the meeting.
“Secondly, when I read his reasons as a vice-chairman of DAP Sarawak to quit the party just because of a press statement issued by a junior party member, that seems very ridiculous. So I have to say that Wong King Wei is a very selfish, wicked and ungrateful person given the fact that Mr Chong Siew Chiang, the partner of Messrs Chong Brothers Advocates, had given him all the convenience and opportunity to do his attachment, chambering, called him to the Bar and accepted him as one of the lawyers in the firm, giving him all the necessary guidance and advice in law. He now comes to the court with unnecessary, unfounded allegations about DAP and, of course, Chong Chieng Jen, who is also one of the lawyers in Chong Brothers Advocates.
“Politically, he was given all the necessary guidance, advice, and even putting his name up to contest in the best winnable seat of DAP, that is Padungan State constituency, by Mr Chong Chieng Jen.”
On June 10, High Court Judge Alwi Abdul Wahab dismissed the application by the defendant to expunge substantial parts of Wong’s evidence given during the cross-examination and in Wong’s witness statement.
After having heard the parties’ submissions, relevant affidavits, and cross-papers, he found no merit in the said application by the defendant.
He said whether Wong’s evidence is relevant or not, the evidence related to the facts and issue is for the Court to evaluate, assess and reconsider after the trial.
Therefore, he dismissed the defendant’s application with cost in the cause.
Kong, through his counsels, had applied to the court to expunge the evidence given by Wong during the cross-examination, especially on Chieng Jen, on the grounds that Wong’s evidence is not pleaded in the Statement of Claim and not relevant to the case, where the allegations have no bearing to a defamation case and not pleaded in Statement of Claim, and it is Wong’s mere speculation or opinion of Chieng Jen.
Chieng Jen’s intention or malice, if any, was not pleaded in the statement of claim.
The substantial parts that the defendant wanted to expunge were about Wong alleging that Chieng Jen or DAP will take action against DAP members; that Wong can sense Chieng Jen instigated the issuance of the defendant’s Facebook post; what Wong said on PH and DAP’s performance and Chieng Jen’s words “Nevermind, we are still in government”; what Wong said about what Chieng Jen had promised and allegation about Chieng Jen lying; in respect of Wong’s feeling and reaction to the words “Nevermind, we are still in government”; regarding what Chieng Jen said about the 20 per cent oil royalty and Wong believed that Chieng Jen had deceived him; Wong alleging that Chieng Jen was throwing animosity against him; regarding the Chong dynasty, the appointment of Kiung and Stanley, and Wong alleging that the defendant’s Facebook post was made with Chieng Jen’s blessing.
Initially, the defendant had applied to the Court to expunge part of the evidence Wong gave in court, but later the defendant expanded the scope also to expunge part of Wong’s witness statement.
However, the counsel for the plaintiff, Shankar Ram, objected to the later application and said Wong’s evidence is related to the case and pleaded issues, and the answer given by Wong are answers to Chieng Jen’s cross-examination questions.
Shankar Ram said it is wrong to do so because this is targeted in a malicious way against Wong in that the defendant is trying to slice Wong’s evidence and pick and choose what is suitable for the defendant, and later attack Wong’s credibility with half of his evidence presented when Wong’s overall evidence would show that the defendant had no defence and the defendant acted maliciously against the plaintiff.
The defendant’s application to expunge Wong’s evidence and his cross-examination answers elicited by Chieng Jen after full cross-examination of Wong are directly relevant to the pleaded issues of both parties.
The plaintiff had, in total, called 17 witnesses for this case and had closed the plaintiff’s case on April 21.
High Court Judge Alwi then fixed July 4 to 5 for the defence’s case.
Wee was represented by counsels Shakar Ram, Yu Ying Ying and Russel Lim, whereas Kong was represented by counsels Chong Siew Chiang, Chieng Jen, Sim Kiat Leng and Brenda Chong. — DayakDaily