By Emma Victoria
THE “Black Hole” trial will continue for another 12 days in March with more witnesses expected to be produced and cross-examined.
The Kuching High Court today fixed March 1 to 12 to continue the defamation case, where the Sarawak government is suing state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
The case involves the management of the “Government’s Contribution towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund” by the Sarawak Government. The Trust Fund was set up in 2006 and up to 2013, approximately RM11 billion of State funds have been allocated to it.
The trial started on Jan 7 and went on until Jan 15, before it was postponed due a Covid-19 case being detected in court.
Chong was initially represented by lawyers from Chong Brothers Advocates that includes his father Chong Siew Chiang, Michael Kong and Sim Kiat Leng.
He was also allowed to act in person, which saw the father and son join hands in cross-examining the witnesses.
However, Chong decided to drop the legal firm and defend himself in the case after the court told him to choose either the firm or represent himself.
But Chong is allowed to have background assistance from his legal firm.
Chong, who is the Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Stampin MP, has persistently questioned the whereabouts of the money in the Trust Fund resulting in the Sarawak Government filing the law suit against him for defamation.
In 2013, Chong used the term ‘Black Hole’ to insinuate that RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers.
His allegation was published in a Chinese national daily, a news portal, and in pamphlets distributed by himself and DAP Sarawak.
Following the lawsuit, the State assembly Speaker has stopped Chong from asking questions in the house on the operation of the Trust Fund on the grounds that the matter is now in litigation.
Last December, the High Court rejected Chong’s application to get the state government to disclose documents in relation to projects funded by the RM11 billion budget.
Several witnesses, including a senior reporter from Sin Chew Daily and Sarawak’s former Director of Finance and Administration in the State Financial Secretary’s office, Abdul Kadir Zainuddin, have been called to the stand so far.