Allow the courts to decide, not the state assembly, says Mohd Asfia
I AM following with concern the spat between State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar and state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen relating to the High Court decision on June 17 in favour of Dr Ting Tiong Choon and thus reinstating him as Pujut assemblyman.
Mohd Asfia filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal shortly after the High Court ruling.
Chong meanwhile wrote to the Chief Minister requesting him to convene an emergency state assembly sitting to decide whether to appeal against the High Court ruling.
He maintained that this would be the proper procedure to deliberate and make a decision on behalf of the state assembly whether to appeal or not against the judgement.
Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said the High Court’s decision was a crisis for the state assembly because, for the first time in history, a resolution passed by the assembly on a ministerial motion was declared unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void by the court.
Mohd Asfia described the letter sent by Chong as “vicious and vitriolic”. Calling Chong’s proposals “absurd,” Mohd Asfia pointed out that “anyone who is conversant with the basics of the legal system would know that, first you have the Court of first instance (lower court), then you have the Appellate and next the Apex.
“Therefore, any attempt to take it out of the Court into the state assembly is sub-judice. This is under Standing Order 32(2) because (when) it is in the Court of Appeal, you cannot take it out and pass it to the state assembly.”
Mohd Asfia went on, “This is the very institution you mutilated and discredited. How can you go and seek solution there?” In addition, he argued that since the High Court ruled that the state assembly was an incompetent forum, why take the matter out of the Court of Appeal to an incompetent forum?
“Why do you need to bring (it) to an incompetent forum? There is no logic to it. Under Standing Order 8(3), the Chief Minister can make representation to the Speaker, then the Speaker can give notice.
“(But) which Chief Minister who commands 72 seats out of 82 seats will bow to the dictates of a minority which commands only seven seats?
“Out of the seven seats, one is the subject matter of the Court of Appeal and a police investigation.”
Chong then retorted that Mohd Asfia was acting beyond his power.
“The Speaker has claimed that he will not call for the emergency state assembly sitting. The Speaker has no power to decide whether to call for state assembly sitting or otherwise.
“The power lies with the Chief Minister and once the representation is made by the Chief Minister to the Speaker, the Speaker must call for the state assembly sitting,” he asserted.
On the labelling of his letter as “vicious and vitriolic,” Chong said: “He has lost his impartiality. How can a request for state assembly sitting be deemed vicious? After all, it is for the elected representatives to make a decision or to vote for a resolution.”
As the subject matter of Dr Ting’s disqualification is now with the Court of Appeal, Mohd Asfia is right that any discussion on the mater is sub-judice.
However, it appears to me that Chong’s call for an emergency sitting is only to formalise the state assembly’s decision to appeal, not to deliberate on the sacking itself.