Wednesday, August 10

Chong vs Dr Sim: Cross-examination to test accuracy, correctness of translator’s posting

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Shankar (right) and his team at the courthouse.

KUCHING (May 12): Counsel Chong Siew Chiang yesterday told the High Court here that the cross-examination of Tan Yew Lee, a translator and an interpreter, was to test the accuracy and correctness of the translation of the defendant’s Facebook posting which allegedly contained slander.

He was not challenging Tan’s ability or her qualifications to give evidence relating to the matter, said Siew Chang at the hearing of a defamation suit filed by Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian against Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen over an allegation of Dr Sim’s failure to manage the food aid drive in 2020.

“A very highly qualified person coming to the court can be cross-examined as to her efficiency to testify and in many occasions the evidence after cross-examination will not be accepted, but of course there are cases where testimonies were accepted.

“The fact that the witness has a high qualification cannot be taken to presume that her testimonial is always correct without a cross examination,” said Siew Chiang during proceedings.

Meanwhile, Tan informed the court that as a certified translator and interpreter, she translated and interpreted based on the whole context and not based on the dictionary.

“Dictionary can only give us the definition, not the meaning in the context. Thus, Thesaurus has to be used as it will give a group of synonym and related concepts.

“This is based on my experience as an interpreter and translator for the past 10 years,” said Tan.

(From left) Brenda, Kong, and Siew Chiang.

She also disagreed when Siew Chiang asked if her translation was based on her own conception after reading the whole passage to conclude her interpretation.

Tan said her translation was accurate as it was based on two Chinese sentences in the context.

“For example, the Malay idiom ‘udang di sebalik batu’ if translated literally it means ‘shrimp or prawn behind the rock or stone’ but the meaning of this idiom means hidden motive behind an act.

“Basically, it implies bad motive. Therefore, the translation is based on the whole context, not based on word-by-word. My translation was based on the two Chinese sentences that I have mentioned just now,” said Tan during cross-examination.

In 2020, Dr Sim filed a defamation suit against Chieng Jen over allegations that he (Dr Sim) had failed to organise a food aid drive involving an allocation of RM800,000 for Padungan, Batu Lintang, Pending and Kota Sentosa constituencies.

The plaintiff was represented by lawyers Shankar Ram Asnani, Russell Lim and Yu Ying Ying, while the defendant was represented by Chong Siew Chiang, Michael Kong and Brenda Chong.

The case was heard before Judge Dr Alwi Abdul Wahab.