By Emma Victoria
THE term “Black Hole” used to describe the status of the RM11 billion Sarawak state Trust Fund was “a mixture of fact and comment,” the Kuching High Court was told today.
Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen explained in his witness testimony today that his remark was also a fact as some Sarawakians, including state assemblymen, did not know where and how the money in the trust fund was used despite the matter being raised in the state assembly multiple times.
On another remark that those who received the money from the government trust fund “could be cronies and family members of the government”, he said it was a comment.
Chong said that in 2012, he had questioned the identity of those receiving the money from the fund but the reply he received from the state finance minister was “any corporate, company or association which has been approved in writing by the Chief Minister”.
“When it says any corporate or company, it could also mean that some private companies linked or owned by the cronies and family of the government. My comment was based on the answer given by the finance minister,” he said.
“Besides, the evasiveness of the state government in disclosing the identities of these companies also caused suspicions that the money from the trust fund could have been used to benefit the cronies.”
The Kota Sentosa assemblyman said that in 2007, the second finance minister had also disclosed that the money from the trust fund was used to finance the construction of the new DUN complex and the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.
He said the two projects were undertaken by the CMS Group of Companies, where the family of the former chief minister had a substantial shareholding.
He said this led him to give the comment on “cronies and families of the government” were among the recipients of the trust fund.
Chong, who is also the Stampin MP, is being sued by the Sarawak government and the State Financial Authority for using the term ‘Black Hole’ to insinuate that RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers.
His allegation was published in the Rocket, Malaysiakini and Sin Chew daily on Jan 3, 2013 as well as on leaflets distributed by Chong and the DAP.