‘Black hole’ trial: Cross-examination of Sarawak DAP chairman continues today
Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen (second, right) is seen with his father Chong Siew Chiang (centre) and his team after the proceedings yesterday. ― Borneo Post pic

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KUCHING, April 7 ― The “black hole” civil suit case trial continues today with lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Sarawak government and State Financial Authority, continuing their cross-examination of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Yesterday’s hearing saw State Legal Counsel Dato Sri JC Fong questioning the Stampin MP on the latter’s basis for saying the recipients of the funds were private companies, crony companies or families.

Chong replied that based on the answer given by the finance minister, they could be any corporate company or association approved by the Chief Minister at the time.

Such a company approved by the then chief minister, he said, could be a private company which may include crony or family companies.

“As a matter of fact, the state government’s avoidance of giving the identities of the companies receiving money from the trust fund also makes me suspect that the money from the trust fund or part of it is used for the benefit of the cronies,” he said.

Chong also disagreed when the plaintiff’s lawyer stated that he had not been able to submit evidence to show that the recipient of the funds could be a private company.

Chong explained that the evidence could be seen in the Hansard report where the second finance minister had said that money from the trust fund was also used to finance the construction of a new State Legislative Assembly (DUN) building and a state convention centre.

“With that answer and combined with the fact that both projects were taken over by Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) Berhad Group of Companies, it shows that the chief minister’s family at the time held a large stake in the company,” he said.

Chong, however, informed the court that he was not referring to any company specifically when touching on private companies in a pamphlet he distributed during a press conference.

According to him, it was only his opinion and comments based on the answers given by the minister and based on the way the finance minister avoided answering his questions on the identity of fund recipients, apart from referring to past examples of projects being awarded to crony companies by the state government.

The trial before Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai continues today.

Apart from Fong, also representing the plaintiffs are state legal officers Mohamad Adzrul Adzlan, Oliver Chua, and Voon Yan Sin.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa state assemblyman, is representing himself in the case, and assisted by Michael Kong, Sim Kiat Leng and Chong Siew Chiang.

Chong is being sued for defamation for using the term ‘black hole’ in January 2013 to insinuate that RM11 billion had gone missing from the state’s coffers.

His allegation was published in Sin Chew Daily News, Malaysiakini, in leaflets distributed by himself and the DAP, and also in “The Rocket”. ― Borneo Post