DAP requests emergency DUN sitting to discuss “crisis”

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING: DAP today called for an emergency sitting of the state legislative assembly to resolve what they described as “a crisis for DUN Sarawak”.

DUN, or Dewan Undangan Negeri in full, is the Malay acronym for the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.

The crisis, its state chief Chong Chieng Jen stated in a letter to Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg – copies of which were distributed to the media – was triggered by the Kuching High Court declaring the ministerial motion and the resolution of the assembly made on May 12 to disqualify Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon as a member of legislature to be unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.

In the letter, which the Kota Sentosa assemblyman personally delievered to his office at Wisma Bapa Malaysia this morning, Chong requested that the chief minister make representation for the emergency sitting to be held within the next two weeks.

“The High Court’s decision is a crisis for DUN Sarawak in that, for the first time in history, a resolution passed in DUN Sarawak on a ministerial motion was declared unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void by the court of law.

“It is unprecedented and the biggest irony is that a law-making body was found to have itself acted unlawfully.

“The ministerial motion and the DUN’s resolution have now brought disrepute and shame to the institution of DUN Sarawak.

“A special sitting of the DUN must be held to allow all the members to fully and solely deliberate on this matter,” Chong stated in the letter.

He also said the sitting was needed as the assembly has no authority to appeal the court decision without a resolution passed authorising it to appeal.

“It is a fundamental principle of our democracy that the DUN, being the legislature, is a separate entity from the executive.

“As such, the state cabinet, the executive, is in no position to decide or act for DUN, the legislature,” he said referring to media reports quoting Abang Johari as saying the state government would file an appeal against the decision to reinstate Dr Ting when the state government was not even a party to the court proceedings.

Chong in the letter stated “the only reasonable conclusion is that your announcement was made on behalf of the DUN”.

He nonetheless stated that without a resolution, any appeal to be filed in the name of the state assembly would be an unauthorised and unlawful act.

“It is embarrassing enough to have the ministerial motion and the DUN’s resolution made on May 12 declared unlawful. It will be doubly embarrassing if the appeal were declared to be unauthorised and unlawful, making DUN Sarawak a habitual law-breaker,” said Chong.

Chong also said the sitting was needed to deliberate on Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar’s appeal against the High Court decision to reinstate Dr Ting.

Asfia, named the first defendant in Dr Ting’s originating summons, in his appeal had named the state assembly as one of the respondents.

Minister for International Trade and E-Commerce, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh who moved the ministerial motion, was named the second defendant; the state assembly the third while the Election Commission was the fourth.

By naming the state assembly as one of the respondents, it implied that the assembly is his opponent in the appeal, Chong stated.

“DUN Sarawak is an institution and is headed by the Speaker. It is ridiculous that the Speaker is now acting against DUN Sarawak by naming the latter a respondent in his appeal.
“When the Speaker of the House takes a legal action against the House itself, definitely the House is in crisis,” said Chong.

The emergency sitting, Chong stated, would also be a fitting time for lawmakers to deliberate whether Asfia is a fit and proper person to continue to be the Speaker.

“The damning comments made by the High Court Judge on the Speaker – the Speaker had misled the Dewan with his wrong interpretation of the Constitution and not acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice – call to question whether Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar should continue with his appointment as the Speaker.”

“When the Speaker has named the DUN as his opponent in a legal action, he can no longer continue to act as the head of the DUN. He should immediately resign or be removed,” Chong stressed.

Chong also stated that Asfia should also be recused for the emergency sitting for the sake of natural justice and basic principle of fairness.

“The Deputy Speaker shall chair the sitting for the simple reason that the Speaker is an interested party.Otherwise, the proceedings and whatever resolution made therein may again defy the rules of natural justice and held unlawful for a second time,” said Chong. – dayakdaily.com