KUCHING: Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar (pic) plans to appeal the Court of Appeal decision that upheld an earlier High Court ruling that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly's disqualification of DAP Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon was unlawful.
Referring to Justice Mary Lim's dissenting judgment in the 2-1 decision, Asfia reiterated her view that the relevant provisions in the state constitution should be given a broad meaning and that the state assembly had the jurisdiction to decide on the matter of Dr Ting's disqualification for previously acquiring Australian citizenship.
Justices Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Harminder Singh Dhaliwal, on the other hand, found that the state assembly had no jurisdiction to determine a member's status prior to his election based on the language used in the state constitution's provisions on disqualification.
They upheld the High Court's decision and dismissed the appeals by Asfia, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, and the state assembly last Friday (July 13).
Asfia said Lim had given a “more appropriate” interpretation of the state constitution's provisions, which would enable the state assembly to deal with the matter of a disqualified person sitting in the House.
“With respect, the interpretation given by Justices Abang Iskandar and Harminder Singh are too restrictive. If such a decision were to stand, I am sure all the other legislative assemblies and Dewan
Rakyat would face a crippling effect in enforcing certain crucial provisions,” he told the state assembly on Monday (July 16).
Asfia said that Parliament and the Speaker would “cease to function” if their decisions could be challenged and overruled in court.
“In the light of these circumstances, it is inevitable that I have to instruct my advocates to make an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court,” he said.
Wong had tabled a ministerial motion on May 12 last year to disqualify Dr Ting over his Australian citizenship, which he acquired in 2010 but gave up on April 4, 2016, before he was voted in as the Pujut assemblyman in the state election on May 7 of the same year.
The motion had been passed 70-10 by the state assembly.
Dr Ting then filed a suit on June 7 last year to challenge his disqualification.
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