KUCHING: The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly's disqualification of DAP's Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon over his Australian citizenship was unlawful.
In a majority decision delivered Friday (July 13) from submissions filed last October, the Court of Appeal ruled that the state assembly had no jurisdiction to disqualify Dr Ting as he acquired Australian citizenship, which he subsequently renounced, before he was elected in the May 2016 state election.
“The state assembly only has jurisdiction to determine the status of a member whose disqualification was incurred after his election.
“To go backwards to determine the status of a person before he was elected would amount to overreach by the state assembly, which in my view has no constitutional support in the state constitution,” judge Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, who chaired a three-man bench.
Harminder Singh Dhaliwal agreed with Abang Iskandar's judgment while Mary Lim dissented.
The two concurring judges dismissed the appeals by Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nassar, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, and the state assembly against the High Court decision, with no order as to costs.
The decision means that Dr Ting remains the Pujut assemblyman.
On May 12 last year, Wong had moved a motion in the Sarawak assembly to disqualify Dr Ting over allegations that he held Australian citizenship.
Dr Ting then filed a suit on June 7 challenging his disqualification.
In its decision on June 17, the High Court here declared that the state legislature's move to disqualify Dr Ting was unlawful as it had acted outside its constitutional limits.
High Court judge Douglas Cristo Primus Sikayun had also ordered Dr Ting to be reinstated as the constituency's representative.
Dr Ting said he was glad the judges had decided in his favour.
“It was really emotional. It has been quite hard for the past 14 months.
“I think it's time to stop and let me do my work as an elected representative,” he said.
State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen also said it was time to move on and allow Dr Ting to continue serving his constituents.
“Dr Ting has clearly renounced his Australian citizenship and came back to serve our country.
“There is no question as to his loyalty to Sarawak and his ability to serve as a Sarawakian,” he said.
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