(From left) Kong, Brenda and Sim Kiat Leng leaving the courtroom after the proceedings.

KUCHING (June 29): The High Court today was told that the Covid-19 food aid from the Sarawak government in 2020 was channeled by the State Implementation and Monitoring Unit (SIMU).

Director of the Sarawak Premier Administrative Unit Nicholas Sia said RM16.4 million was channeled to SIMU by departmental warrants in the first stage.

“Thereafter in the second stage, a payment of RM16.4 million was made to the Divisional Disaster Management Committee (DDMC),” said Sia during examination by Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian’s counsel Shankar Ram.

Sia was asked by Shankar how the Covid-19 food aid money was paid out by the state government and what stages were involved during the process.

Sia then submitted several documents from the Unit Pentadbiran Premier Sarawak to the court.

One of the documents was a Sarawak Government Departmental Warrants dated March 31, 2020 with the amount of RM16.4 million in respect of the fund for Covid-19 for 82 constituencies, attached with the Food Sub-committee Meeting Minute No. 1/2020 dated March 27, 2020.

SIMU also included 12 payment vouchers to DDMC for 12 divisions in Sarawak.

“First was Kapit, second Miri, third Betong, fourth Sri Aman, fifth Bintulu, sixth Limbang, seventh Samarahan, eighth Serian, ninth Sarikei, tenth Mukah, eleventh Sibu and twelfth Lundu,” he said.

Sia also informed the court that no Treasury Department payment from the Premier’s Office or from SIMU to DDMC was given to any of the constituency members, be it Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) or the opposition.

Sia then confirmed that Dr Sim did not have any control at all over the Covid-19 food aid money.

“I am sure the money was all channelled to SIMU and SIMU to DDMC and none of the State Legislative Assembly members of GPS or opposition were given any money at all.

Meanwhile, during cross-examination by Chong Chieng Jen’s counsel, Micheal Kong, he referred to a letter dated April 3, 2020 stating that the ADUN service centre would manage all food purchases and confirm purchase bills, then submitted an application to DDMC for payment.

“Do you agree with me that the respective ADUN service centres shall manage the purchase of food aid and DDMC shall thereafter be responsible for the payment of the food aid  purchased?” asked Kong.

Sia answered yes.

In 2020, Dr Sim, who is also SUPP president, filed a defamation suit against Chong for alleging that he (Dr Sim) had failed to manage the food aid of RM800,000 meant for four state constituencies, namely Padungan, Batu Lintang, Pending and Kota Sentosa.

Shankar was assisted by lawyers Russell Lim and Yu Ying Ying, while Chong was represented by lawyers Kong, Chong Siew Chiang, Sim Kiat Leng and Brenda Chong.

The case, heard before Judge Dr Alwi Abdul Wahab, continues tomorrow.