Appellate Court allows Chong’s application to amend defence in Sarawak govt’s defamation suit

Chong Chieng Jen had applied for the judicial review on the Federal Court judgement delivered on September 26, 2018, on the ground that the judgment violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech. — Borneo Post pic
Chong Chieng Jen had applied for the judicial review on the Federal Court judgement delivered on September 26, 2018, on the ground that the judgment violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech. — Borneo Post pic

KUCHING, Sept 22 — The Court of Appeal today allowed DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s application to amend his defence in a defamation suit filed by the state government and State Financial Authority (SFA) over the allegation of missing RM11 billion from the state coffers.

In allowing Chong’s appeal, the Court of Appeal Judges Datuk Hanipah Farikullah, Datuk Ravinthran N. Paramaguru and Datuk Wira Ahmad Nasfy Yasin found that he was not out of time when filing the application to amend his defence.

When contacted after the appeal proceeding, Chong’s counsel Michael Kong said the Court of Appeal found merits in his appeal that there was no delay in his application to amend his defence.

The case proper will proceed for mention again this Thursday.

“The case will be mentioned on September 24, 2020 and we will see what the High Court has to say then. The trial was originally set for October 12 to 16, 2020.

“We will have to see what the High Court says this Thursday in view of the amendment,” said Kong who was assisting leading counsel Chong Siew Chiang and Counsels Ronald Ong and Tan Kee Heng.

State Legal counsel Dato Sri JC Fong, who was assisted by legal officers Mohamad Adzrul Adzlan and Oliver Chua represented the State government and State Financial Authority.

Chong’s application to amend the defence was dismissed by the High Court here on June 29, 2020. He then appealed against the decision.

In 2013, Chong used the term “blackhole” to insinuate that the RM11 billion had gone missing from the state coffers.

The allegation was published in a Chinese national daily, a news portal, and in pamphlets distributed by Chong and the DAP.

As a result, the Sarawak government and the State Financial Authority filed a defamation suit against him at the Kuching High Court on April 3, 2013.

Chong had on February 12, failed in his bid to stop this Sarawak government’s defamation suit when the Federal Court in Putrajaya dismissed his appeal to review the apex court’s decision to allow the government to sue for defamation.

The Federal Court then decided that there was no merit in Chong’s application and also, that the Federal Court could not review its own decision.

Chong had applied for the judicial review on the Federal Court judgement delivered on September 26, 2018, on the ground that the judgment violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom of speech. — Borneo Post

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