Black Hole Trial: 10 questions given to ministers, but no replies for some for 6 months

By Emma Victoria

DESPITE submitting 10 questions to the Sarawak state assembly for ministers to answer on various financial issues involving Sarawak state funds, the state DAP chief did not receive any answers for some of them for more than six months.

Even the answers Chong Chieng Jen eventually received were only partial and no details were given on state financial matters.

The Kuching High Court was told today that although questions were submitted, there was no legal provision that the government must answer them.

This was revealed by former Sarawak state assembly secretary Supian Tarmizi Mohd Tazuddin during cross-examination by Chong at the “Black Hole” trial today.

Chong is representing himself in the defamation case trial.

Supian said he couldn’t recall if any answer was even given to the questions submitted by Chong during the assembly sitting in May 2007.

However, he confirmed that Chong had submitted 10 questions including the names of the agencies that had received money from a state-owned trust fund.

According to Chong, the government had allocated RM520 million and RM1.2 billion, in 2006 and 2007, respectively for the trust fund.

But Supian said he couldn’t recall if there was any reply as sometimes there would be no answer during the sitting or even a written reply later.

“There is no provision in the Standing Orders that answers must be given to the questions raised by assemblymen – both written and oral replies,” he said.

Supian said assemblymen were required to submit their questions 14 days before the sitting to allow the ministers sufficient time to prepare the answers.

“However, there is no timeframe for them to reply,” he said, adding that questions submitted by Chong on Apr 25, 2012, only got written replies on Oct 31, 2012, which was six months later.

“I will forward the questions submitted to all the respective ministries. But it is beyond my control on how and when they want to reply,” he said.

Supian also agreed that the identities of the agencies that received money from the trust fund were not disclosed during the state assembly sitting on Nov 27, 2012, which was the second sitting that year.

Chong, who is also the Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Stampin MP, is being sued by the Sarawak government and the State Financial Authority (SFA) for defamation after using the term ‘Black Hole’ to insinuate that RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers.

His allegations were published in the Rocket, Malaysiakini and Sin Chew Daily on Jan 3, 2013 as well as on pamphlets distributed by Chong and the DAP.

 

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