Court of Appeal rules “DUN exceeded its power” in denouncing Pujut rep’s membership

From left, front row: Dr Ting’s counsel Chong Siew Chiang, Dr Ting, state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, DAP Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong and others in a group photo.

KUCHING, July 13: The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal of Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and two other respondents to strip Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon of his DUN membership.

In a split decision, the three-judge bench decided that the DUN had exceeded its power in denouncing Dr Ting’s DUN membership on the basis of his dual citizenship, which Dr Ting had given up before being nominated as a candidate for Pujut.

In the two-to-one decision, Court of Appeal Judges Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal were for the dismissal of the appeal while Justice Mary Lim held a dissenting view.

Asfia, Wong, DUN and the Election Commission brought the case to the Court of Appeal after the Kuching High Court ruled against the disqualification of Dr Ting as Pujut assemblyman last year.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Datuk Douglas Christo Primus Sikayun held the view that the DUN was not a competent forum to decide on the membership of Dr Ting based on Article 118 of the Federal Constitution. He had also added that Article 17(1)(g) was wrongly applied by Asfia.

In response to the judgment, Dr Ting said the whole episode had been quite hard on him for the last 14 months.

“It is time to stop and let me go on to do my work as an elected representative and not be bothered by all these,” said Dr Ting to the media.

Meanwhile, Dr Ting’s counsel, Chong Siew Chiang, said his legal team’s argument was that Dr Ting’s possession of the dual citizenship was before the state election in 2011.

He said at the time of the polls, Dr Ting no longer had Australian citizenship.

Because of that, any violations that Dr Ting might have committed should be under the Election Court and not for DUN to interfere.

“Therefore, the Dewan (DUN) had exceeded its power. It, in fact, has no power to deal with the matter. The matter has to be dealt with by the Election Court,” said Chong. — DayakDaily