KUCHING: DAP’s Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon wants to just get on with work after the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that the Sarawak state assembly’s move to disqualify him was unlawful.
Welcoming the decision, Dr Ting said it was time to move on, describing the past 14 months as “really emotional” and “hard”.
“Let me go on to do my work as an elected representative and not be bothered by all this,” he said.
Yesterday, in a majority decision, the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s move to disqualify Dr Ting over his Australian citizenship was unlawful, saying that it had acted beyond its jurisdiction.
In affirming the High Court’s decision, Justices Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Harminder Singh Dhaliwal also dismissed the appeals by Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and the state assembly. Justice Mary Lim dissented.
“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,” said Abang Iskandar, who chaired the three-men bench.
He said the language used in Articles 18 and 19 of the constitution on disqualification applied to members who had been elected to the state assembly and since lost their qualification.
“This did not happen in this case. (Dr Ting)’s disqualification occurred before his election,” he said.
Dr Ting had acquired Australian citizenship in 2010 but renounced this on April 4, 2016, before being voted in as Pujut assemblyman in the state election on May 7 that same year.
Abang Iskandar said the ministerial motion tabled by Wong to disqualify Dr Ting on May 12 last year was done without the proper jurisdiction, had no effect and was null and void.
The motion was passed 70-10 by the state assembly. Dr Ting filed a suit on June 7 last year to challenge it.
State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the decision made it clear that both the Speaker and state assembly must exercise their power within the ambit of the law.
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