SARAWAK STATE ASSEMBLY SACKS DAP’S PUJUT REP
Dr Ting Tiong Choon had dual citizenship, says minister
ADIB POVERA, GOH PEI PEI AND MOHD ROJI KAWI PETRA JAYA firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Sarawak State Legislative Assembly made an unprecedented move yesterday by disqualifying DAP’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon as Pujut assemblyman for allegedly holding dual citizenship.
The decision, described by political observers as a first in the country’s history, also raised the possibility of a by-election being held in the state constituency.
The verdict against Dr Ting was made after the state assembly voted in favour of a ministerial motion moved against the one-term opposition assemblyman.
State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar announced the disqualification of Dr Ting after 70 assemblymen voted in favour of the motion with only 10 state lawmakers voting against it.
“The honourable member for Pujut is hereby disqualified under Article 17(1)(g) of the State Constitution of Sarawak to be a member and has ceased to be a member of the Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak forthwith,” said Asfia before adjourning the morning session of the state assembly sitting here yesterday.
The ministerial motion was moved by state International Trade and E-Commerce Minister, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.
Wong said the Article stipulated that a person would be disqualified from being an elected member of the state assembly if he voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country.
Wong said he was informed by Bukit Aman police headquarters via a letter that Dr Ting acquired Australian citizenship on Jan 20, 2010, but renounced it on April 4 last year.
He also said Dr Ting had exercised the right as an Australian citizen by registering as a voter with the Australian Election Commission.
“He (had) trusted and believed the rights and liberties of the Australian people, which he had great respect and whose laws he has agreed to uphold and obey.
“Having given his allegiance to Australia, the honourable member (Dr Ting) has breached the expressed provision of Article 17(1)(g) of the State Constitution of Sarawak.
“And (Dr Ting) is a completely unfit and untrustworthy person to be a member of the respected and honourable state assembly,” he said.
Wong, referring to a report by Australian Financial Security Authority, said Dr Ting had been declared a bankrupt twice when he was in Australia on June 29, 2012 and Sept 11, 2012.
A heated debate ensued between assemblymen from both sides of the divide after Wong’s winding-up speech.
Dr Ting, in his defence, cast doubts on the authenticity of the report published by the Australian authority.
“Has anyone in this house ever heard of a person being declared a bankrupt twice within three months?
“How do you do it?
“And if I were a bankrupt, how can I enter and exit Australia freely?” he asked.
During a press conference later, Dr Ting said: “I decided to renounce my Australian citizenship as I wanted to come back (to Malaysia to serve the people).”
The renouncement of citizenship application, he said, was accepted by the Australian government in April last year.
Sarawak DAP chairman, Chong Chieng Jen, said the party was considering taking legal action against the state assembly.
The Election Commission, in a statement, said it would decide on the next course of action pending an official notification from Asfia on the status of the Pujut state seat.
A by-election must be called within 60 days after a state seat has been vacated or declared vacant.
And (Dr Ting) is a completely unfit and untrustworthy person to be a member of the respected and honourable state assembly.
Dr Ting Tiong Choon leaving the Sarawak State Assembly in Kuching yesterday.