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Accused by S'wak Report, state legal advisor drags in Mukhriz
Published:  Aug 16, 2019 2:49 PM
Updated: Aug 19, 2019 4:09 AM

Editor's note: Paragraph 1, 3, 4 and 5 of this article has been amended upon clarification from interested parties. We regret any inconveniences caused. Malaysiakini is currently studying the contents of a Federal Court judgement involving Paragro Sdn Bhd vs Tanjung Tiara Sdn Bhd and court documents related to Suit No KCH-21NCvC-5/6-2018.

Legal advisor to the Sarawak government Fong Joo Chung has accused Mukhriz Mahathir of obtaining logging rights from Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in 1994 when his father Dr Mahathir Mohamad was serving his first tenure as prime minister.

This was raised by Fong when addressing allegations of a conspiracy to defraud made against him by London-based website Sarawak Report.

On July 27, Sarawak Report published an article linking Fong and current Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Awang to a commercial dispute involving Paragro Sdn Bhd and Tanjung Tiara Sdn Bhd - the company which won rights to log 1,000-hectare .

According to Sarawak Report, Paragro succeeded in obtaining a Federal Court decision which ruled that they were owed RM285 million by Tanjung Tiara, which was then under the control of one Ha Tiung Noon. 

Documents published by Sarawak Report suggested that Mukhriz was once the chairperson of Tanjung Tiara and wrote to the Sarawak government for permission to clear Lot 63 of the Sawai District in September 1994. 

According to Fong, who never named Mukhriz and instead referred to him as a "well known West Malaysian politician", said Sarawak Report should have been "transparent enough" to name the politician.

In response, Sarawak Report, in an article yesterday, said it never intentionally omitted Mukhriz' name.

"At the time of the publication of our original article, Sarawak Report was not in fact aware of the existence of such a letter nor were we aware that at the time of the granting of the original lease for the disputed plantation, Mukhriz was the chairperson and co-shareholder of the company, together with the present plaintiff seeking payment," said the website.

Sarawak Report said it has obtained a letter, after learning of its existence through Fong, confirming that Mukhriz was indeed the chairperson of Tanjung Tiara at the material time and had corresponded with the Sarawak government on the logging plans.

Responding to Sarawak Report's queries on the matter, Mukhriz, who is now Kedah menteri besar, claimed that he was unaware of any improprieties involving Tanjung Tiara.

"I was involved in a small way with a plantation company in Sarawak over 30 years ago and cut ties with them just a few years after," he told the website.

Mukhriz had only become politically active in the 2000s and first entered public office in 2008. In 1994, he was 30-years-old. 

Meanwhile, Sarawak Report questioned why Fong did not take action in the past if Tanjung Tiara's land deal was suspect.

Fong was the state's attorney-general between 1992 and 2007. Apart from being the current state legal advisor, he also sits on the board of Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd, Sarawak Energy Bhd, Harwood Timber Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Cable Bhd.

Fong stated in his press release dated July 29 that he intends to sue Sarawak Report for its "malicious allegations" against him.

He said he was not involved in any "bogus contract" - central to the claim of conspiracy to defraud as published by Sarawak Report - and that the alleged "bogus contract" was the subject of two concluded cases and found to be a "valid and subsisting contract."

Fong is currently representing the state government in another case at the Kuching High Court filed by Tanjung Tiara.

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