EC to convene special meeting on by-election
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