KUCHING: Sarawak DAP has lodged a police report over a defamatory posting on the “Rise Sarawakians” Facebook page against its chairman, Chong Chieng Jen, on the granting of sugar import licences or approved permits (APs) to eight food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers in the state.
DAP’s Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei said the statement, which was posted yesterday afternoon on the social networking site, had alleged that Chong was granting APs to the eight F&B manufacturers because of his close relationship with the companies and would receive 30% in profits in return from them.
Chong is deputy domestic trade and consumer affairs minister and has strongly denied the accusations.
Wong said the post was part of a series of attacks against DAP and he had reason to believe that the Facebook page belonged to SUPP as the attacks were focused mainly on DAP leaders.
“This is a serious allegation and I believe that this is part of SUPP’s propaganda to attack DAP.
“We all know that SUPP’s biggest political rival is DAP,” he told reporters at the One Stop Centre police station here today.
He said, coincidentally, Tan Kai, a SUPP leader, had also challenged Chong yesterday to disclose the eight F&B manufacturers in Sarawak granted the APs.
Wong said the issuance of APs to the F&B manufacturers was part of the Pakatan Harapan government’s efforts to break the monopoly on sugar imports in the country.
Unfortunately, he said, it had been twisted by the owner of the Facebook site.
“It’s a baseless accusation. You must have evidence whenever you’re making any statement,” he said, urging the person responsible to come forward and justify himself instead of hiding like a “mouse”.
With the 2021 state election fast approaching, he warned the public to watch out for the increasing spread of fake news, especially against DAP.
He also urged police to investigate the matter as this was not the first time the owner of the Facebook page had come up with defamatory statements.
It also targeted Wong and other DAP leaders, namely DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii and Pending assemblyperson Violet Yong.
‘No middlemen or Ali Babas involved’
Chong, when contacted, expressed shock over the allegation that the issuance of the APs was a form of cronyism and that he had personally profited from the issuance of such APs.
“If SUPP thinks that those who have been issued with APs are my cronies, then the whole F&B sector in Sarawak will and can be my cronies.
“Any F&B manufacturer in Sarawak can apply for this sugar import permit (APs) so long as they genuinely require sugar in their production.
“The APs are directly issued to the manufacturers, without any middleman transaction or ‘rent-seeking Ali Baba’, which was the hallmark of the previous BN’s administration.”
He said so far, the whole F&B industry was happy with this liberalisation policy because it has reduced their cost of production by about RM1,000 a tonne of sugar.
The only parties who were unhappy with this new policy were MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd and Central Sugar Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) who had been enjoying exclusive rights of supply of sugar in the whole of Malaysia all this while.
“Why is SUPP now becoming their spokesman championing against this new liberalisation of sugar supply policy?”
In Sarawak, he said the monopolies over cement, steel and natural resources, such as sand, stone and timber concessions, have also taken their toll on the people of Sarawak and the state’s economy.
“We can’t dismantle such monopolies in Sarawak because of the protection offered by the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government and the state autonomy over these matters.
“Only if there is a change in state government can we start the process of dismantling these monopolies and controls,” he said.