KUCHING: The Sarawak state assembly’s decision to disqualify Dr Ting Tiong Choon as Pujut assemblyman has been declared unlawful by the High Court here.
Justice Douglas Cristo Primus Sikayun also made the order for Dr Ting to be reinstated as the constituency’s representative.
By virtue of this outcome, there will be no by-election in Pujut even though the Election Commission (EC) had fixed June 20 for nomination and July 4 for polling.
The judge, in his ruling, said the state assembly was not a competent forum to decide on the membership of Dr Ting based on Article 118 of the Federal Constitution and that the Speaker had wrongly applied Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak constitution.
“The state assembly has no express powers to deal with election results and is not a competent body to decide constitutional issues,” he added.
The judge said Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar had taken the role of prosecutor and had not accurately stated the laws, in particular Article 23(1) and 24(1) of the Federal Constitution; therefore, the rule of natural justice had not been complied with and adhered to.
Dr Ting lost the Pujut seat after he was removed by the Sarawak legislative assembly on May 12 for holding dual citizenships – one of Australia and the other, of Malaysia.
The court also ordered Asfia and Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who tabled a motion to disqualify Dr Ting, to pay RM100,000 in costs to the plaintiff.
Asfia’s lawyer Shankar Ram Asnani told reporters that he would file an appeal.
In an immediate response, the EC said that it would comply with the ruling on Dr Ting’s position.
“The EC will hold a special meeting to finalise the decision involving the dates that had been set before this,” it said in a statement.
Wong also said that the state Barisan Nasional would respect the court’s decision.
He would meet Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state attorney-general to discuss the next course of action.
Wong said his motion to disqualify Dr Ting was a ministerial motion in his capacity as a minister and Cabinet member, and not something done on his own whim.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the court’s decision must be accepted.
“Everybody has the right to seek justice. We will study the ruling and see whether we can make an appeal,” said Dr wan Junaidi, who is Santubong MP.
In Miri, Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting said the party will continue to work hard to serve the Pujut constituents despite the cancellation of the scheduled by-election.
“With or without an election, our party will continue to do our best to look after the welfare of all people,” said Sebastian, who is Piasau assemblyman.
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the court’s judgement has indicated that the Speaker cannot act above the law.