ISSUE LIKELY A DRAGGED-OUT AFFAIR
DAP to challenge the disqualification of state rep in court
AND GOH PEI PEI KUCHING email@example.com
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