IS­SUE LIKELY A DRAGGED-OUT AF­FAIR

DAP to chal­lenge the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of state rep in court

New Straits Times - - News -

ADIB POVERA

AND GOH PEI PEI KUCHING news@nst.com.my

THE out­come of the Pu­jut state seat is­sue is likely to be a dragged-out af­fair. This is be­cause DAP said it would legally chal­lenge the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of its assem­bly­man, Dr Ting Tiong Choon.

Con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Dr Mohd Az­izud­din Mohd Sani said the state assem­bly had the power to dis­qual­ify Dr Ting un­der

Ar­ti­cle 17(1)(g) of the State Con­sti­tu­tion of Sarawak.

The ar­ti­cle pro­vides that a per­son is dis­qual­i­fied from be­ing elected as a state assem­bly­man if he had vol­un­tar­ily ac­quired cit­i­zen­ship of or ex­er­cised rights of cit­i­zen­ship in or has made dec­la­ra­tion of al­le­giance to any coun­try out­side the Fed­er­a­tion.

“A Malaysian is not al­lowed to hold dual cit­i­zen­ship. Such ac­tion does not only vi­o­late the state con­sti­tu­tion, but also the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Con­sti­tu­tional ex­pert As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Dr Awang Az­man Awang Pawi, how­ever, held a dif­fer­ent view.

He said the dis­pute over Dr Ting hold­ing Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship should only be de­bated and de­cided in court.

“This is in line with the con­cept of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers for checks and bal­ances.”

Az­izud­din said the onus was on Dr Ting to present sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence and clear the air over his cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus be­fore he could chal­lenge the state assem­bly’s ver­dict.

“He can use the le­gal chan­nel to clear his name, although he can­not do the same to chal­lenge his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” said Az­man.

The state assem­bly on Fri­day voted in favour of a min­is­te­rial mo­tion to dis­qual­ify Dr Ting as mem­ber of the Au­gust house. This fol­lows al­le­ga­tions that Dr Ting was hold­ing dual cit­i­zen­ship — Malaysia and Aus­tralia — and had been de­clared bank­rupt twice in Aus­tralia in 2012.

State DAP will hold an emer­gency meet­ing to­day to de­cide on pos­si­ble le­gal ac­tion to chal­lenge the de­ci­sion by the state assem­bly.

In Ge­orge Town, Pe­nang, DAP sec­re­tary-gen­eral Lim Guan Eng said he had in­structed the state party to pre­pare for a pos­si­bil­ity of a by-elec­tion in Pu­jut.

“This has never hap­pened and we are shocked. The (Elec­tion) Court has dis­missed an elec­tion pe­ti­tion filed against Dr Ting over the same al­le­ga­tion, but now the state assem­bly is de­cid­ing oth­er­wise.”

Lim was re­fer­ring to the elec­tion pe­ti­tion filed by Barisan Na­sional can­di­date for the Pu­jut seat, Datuk Hii King Chiong, who claimed that Dr Ting had ac­quired Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship and should be dis­qual­i­fied.

The pe­ti­tion, how­ever, was dis­missed by the Elec­tion Court on tech­ni­cal grounds in Oc­to­ber last year.

Sources at the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion said State Assem­bly Speaker Datuk Mohd As­fia Awang Nas­sar had yet to sub­mit of­fi­cial no­tice on the sta­tus of the state seat in Miri.

It was learnt that As­fia is ex­pected to sub­mit the no­tice next week. He and his deputy, Datuk Ger­awat Gala, could not be reached for com­ments. Should the state seat be de­clared vacant, a by­elec­tion must be called within 60 days.

Dr Ting won the Pu­jut seat in a four-cor­nered fight against Hii, state Pas Com­mis­sioner Jofri Jaraiee and in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Fong Pau Teck in the state elec­tion in May last year.

Dr Ting Tiong Choon

Awang Az­man Awang Pawi

Mohd Az­izud­din Mohd Sani

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