EC to con­vene spe­cial meet­ing on by-elec­tion

New Straits Times - - News -

KUCHING: The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC) will con­vene a spe­cial meet­ing to de­cide on the de­tails of the Pu­jut state seat by-elec­tion.

Its chair­man, Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Ab­dul­lah, said the meet­ing would be held at the EC head­quar­ters in Putrajaya on Fri­day.

The meet­ing will be held af­ter the com­mis­sion re­ceived an of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tion from Sarawak Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly Speaker Datuk Mohd As­fia Awang Nas­sar on the va­cancy of the Pu­jut state seat.

“The no­tice stated that the seat is va­cant be­cause its as­sem­bly­man, Dr Ting Tiong Choon, has been stripped off his mem­ber­ship in the Sarawak Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly. The meet­ing will dis­cuss af­fairs re­lat­ing to the Pu­jut by-elec­tion,” said he yes­ter­day.

Ear­lier in Pe­tra Jaya, As­fia, when an­nounc­ing the sub­mis­sion of the of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tion, de­fended the move by the Sarawak Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly to dis­qual­ify DAP’s Dr Ting.

As­fia also said the va­lid­ity of any pro­ceed­ings in the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly of any state should not be ques­tioned in court.

He cited the case of Lim Cho Hock vs Speaker of Perak, whereby the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly was the fi­nal ar­biter in any ques­tion aris­ing as to whether a mem­ber is dis­qual­i­fied for mem­ber­ship.

“The prin­ci­ple of nat­u­ral jus­tice was adopted and up­held be­fore Dr Ting was dis­qual­i­fied af­ter a vote in favour of a min­is­te­rial mo­tion was made against him dur­ing the state as­sem­bly sit­ting on Fri­day,” he said.

Dr Ting and state DAP chair­man Chong Chieng Jen were given a chance to be heard un­der the prin­ci­ple of “audi al­term partem” (lis­ten to the other side) when the state Sec­ond Fi­nance Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and the speaker asked them: “Did you (Dr Ting) ac­quire Aus­tralian ci­ti­zen­ship?”

“The an­swer of yes or no was not forth­com­ing. The De­wan made the de­ci­sion,” he said.

To know­ingly al­low a for­eign na­tional to sit as an elected honourable mem­ber in the Sarawak Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly, said As­fia, would vi­o­late the law of the land and goes against the pro­vi­sions in the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.

Deputy Chief Min­is­ter Tan Sri James Je­mut Mas­ing said Dr Ting, who al­legedly held dual ci­ti­zen­ship, had also breached the Sarawak Con­sti­tu­tion.

“Hence, it was the duty of the speaker to in­form the EC on the august house’s de­ci­sion on Pu­jut,” said Mas­ing.

In Jo­hor Baru, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi said the Sarawak Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly’s de­ci­sion to dis­qual­ify Dr Ting was not a ques­tion of pol­i­tics, but the prin­ci­ples of the con­sti­tu­tion.

“The con­sti­tu­tion only recog­nises one ci­ti­zen­ship for Malaysians. If any Malaysian has dual ci­ti­zen­ship, then their Malaysian ci­ti­zen­ship is au­to­mat­i­cally re­voked, more­over if that Malaysian had ap­plied to be­come a cit­i­zen of an­other coun­try.

“In this case, his sta­tus as an as­sem­bly­man is au­to­mat­i­cally re­voked,” said Zahid af­ter a ground-break­ing cer­e­mony for the Ibrahim In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness District’s pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture project here yes­ter­day.

Zahid said DAP could chal­lenge the state as­sem­bly’s de­ci­sion or take le­gal action.

“How­ever, the con­sti­tu­tion, as the high­est law of the land, has to be re­spected,” said Zahid. Re­port­ing by Adib Povera, Goh Pei Pei and Rizal­man Ham­mim

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