Dr Ting remains as Pujut assemblyman, Court of Appeal rules

KUCHING: Dr Ting Tiong Choon remains as the state assemblyman for Pujut.

The Court of Appeal, in a majority decision, upheld a High Court decision ruling as unlawful the disqualification of Dr Ting by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly over his Australian citizenship.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal brought by State Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nasar and Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh against the High Court decision.

Judges Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal concurred to dismiss the appeal, stating that the State Assembly did not have the jurisdiction to disqualify Dr Ting before his election.

Judge Mary Lim Thiam Suan dissented, saying Dr Ting was not qualified to be elected as an assemblyman as he had taken on Australian citizenship.

Judge Abang Iskandar, when reading out the judgment, said the Sarawak Assembly was not the appropriate forum to decide on the membership of Dr Ting under Article 118 of the Federal Constitution and the Speaker of the Assembly had wrongly applied Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak State Constitution.

“The decision reached by the 70 state assemblymen who voted and supported the motion tabled by International Trade and e-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh during the assembly sitting last year is void and invalid,” he said.

Judge Lim said Dr Ting's rejection of his Australian citizenship also did not qualify him to be an elected representative because he had taken the oath to be an Australian citizen.

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly decided by a majority vote on May 12 last year to disqualify Dr Ting as the state assemblyman for Pujut because he had dual citizenship, specifically Malaysian and Australian.

Dr Ting regained his position as the assemblyman for Pujut through a High Court decision on June 17 last year. The court decided that his seat had not fallen vacant. — Bernama

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