Sarawak DAP rep fails to turn up to repeat claims outside assembly

Sarawak legal counsel JC Fong says Violet Yong was bold in making false and defamatory allegations against him in the state assembly because she is protected by parliamentary privileges.

KUCHING: Sarawak legal counsel JC Fong says he would seek other legal options against DAP assemblyman Violet Yong, after she failed to turn up to publicly repeat her allegations in the state assembly last week against him and his daughter.

“Since she has not come and does not allow me to take this matter to court, I will consult my team of lawyers to explore other legal options,” he said at a press conference here today.

He said this included calling on state legislative members to submit a petition under Standing Order 16 for them to take appropriate action against Yong for breach of privilege.

“She was bold in making these false and defamatory allegations against me inside the chamber because she knew that whatever is uttered by her are protected by parliamentary privileges and that I cannot sue her for defamation.”

Describing Yong’s allegations as false, Fong said Yong had abused the parliamentary privilege to run down people and avoid facing them.

On another matter, Fong clarified that his wife was at the state legislative assembly for a meeting with some government officials and was allowed to sit in the area of the chamber reserved for the speaker’s guests.

He said his wife was not an intruder as she received the normal security clearance upon arrival at the state legislative assembly.

“In fact, Yong’s mother, the late Ong Teck Eng, was part of my staff for almost 20 years when I was in private law practice.

“During that period, and even after I joined the state government service, Ong and her husband were good friends of my wife and myself,” he said.

Fong said their families even visited each other during Chinese New Year celebrations and they first saw Yong when she was a teenager.

“Therefore, my wife is not someone who is a total stranger to Yong.

“It is therefore most surprising that Yong should complain as if my wife, who is a 69-year-old grandma, was an alarming security risk to her.”

He said Yong must have immediately recognised his wife when she wanted to have a conversation with her outside the Dewan’s chamber.

“In any event, what my wife did in trying to have a conversation with Yong was in defence of her family members who have been wronged and insulted.

“That is expected of any good mother. I am sure Yong’s own mother would have done likewise in similar circumstances,” he said.

Meanwhile, State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) president Lina Soo, who was also present during the press conference, urged Yong to do her job without fear or favour.

“If Yong just talks about it in the state legislative assembly and to the media, but does not follow up on her expose, then she is failing in her duties as a citizen and as an elected lawmaker.

“If that were so, is it just to echo her own words — ‘a lot of thunder without rain’?”

Soo said it would be every citizen’s responsibility to report to the proper authorities on corruption and criminal behaviour, what more an elected representative who knows the law and is duty-bound to do her best for the people whom she represents.

Last week, Yong had alleged that the Sarawak government’s failed negotiation over the 5% sales tax on petroleum products owed by Petronas was due to board members of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) having lucrative contracts with the national oil giant.

She had, among others, named Handal Energy Bhd, which she said was linked to Fong’s daughter, Jacqueline.

“No wonder there is so much thunder but no rain from the chief minister’s negotiations with Petronas even though the deadline of Oct 31 for Petronas to pay the 5% sales tax is over,” she said.

Her speech was however expunged from the Hansard as speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar said Fong and his daughter were not present to defend themselves.