PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak state assembly’s decision to disqualify DAP’s Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon is lawful, says constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan.
He said the state assembly has a right under the state constitution to disqualify an elected representative if they are found to have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country.
"Under Article 17 (1) of the Sarawak Constitution, one of the conditions that may cause you to be disqualified from your seat is if you have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country," said Syahredzan.
"It does appear that even if he subsequently renounced his Australian citizenship, the fact that he acquired it in the first place would disqualify him," he added.
Syahredzan noted that Dr Ting had not lost his Malaysian citizenship because he was not issued a formal order from the Federal Government informing him of the revocation.
However, he added that the state assembly can still disqualify an elected representative regardless of whether there is an order from the Federal Government to revoke their Malaysian citizenship.
“There are two sides to every story, but based on what we have, it would appear that that it (the decision) is lawful,” he added.
On Friday, the state assembly voted 70 to 10 to disqualify Dr Ting after a motion by International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh was passed.
Wong, the Bawang Assan assemblyman, said he was informed in a letter from the Bukit Aman CID that Dr Ting acquired Australian citizenship in January 2010 and renounced it shortly before the Sarawak state election in April 2016.
The DAP representative had also exercised his rights as an Australian citizen by registering as a voter with the country’s election commission, he said.
At a press conference later, Dr Ting defended himself by saying that he had renounced his Australian citizenship after being recruited by TalentCorp to return to Malaysia.
He added that he had never lost his Malaysian citizenship.
Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship as stipulated under Article 24(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Those who have acquired citizenship from other countries must voluntarily renounce their Malaysian citizenship or risk having it revoked.