DUN Speaker to appeal against Appellate Court’s decision on Pujut rep’s case

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar. — dayakdaily.com

KUCHING, July 16: Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar will file a notice of appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss the disqualification of Dr Ting Tiong Choon as Pujut assemblyman.

On July 13, a 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.

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, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, DUN and the Election Commission brought the case to the Court of Appeal after the Kuching High Court ruled in Dr Ting’s favour last year.

Speaking at the DUN sitting today, Asfia said in Lim’s judgement, she was of the view that Article 19 of the State Constitution ought to be given a broad meaning and that there was jurisdiction to call in question the qualification in the assembly the issue of Dr Ting acquiring foreign citizenship.

“Lim considered the Indian cases cited by Justices Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Harminder Singh Dhaliwal, but found them to be irrelevant and the facts different.

“So the decision of Abang Iskandar, based on the case of the Indian Supreme Court, is found by Lim to be irrelevant and of different facts from the present case, whereas Harminder considered Article 50 of Federal Constitution was for post-election matters,” Asfia said.

Asfia pointed out that the appropriate interpretation given to the various articles of the state constitution, such as Article 17, 16, 18 and 19, by Lim would bring life to the whole intent of the constitution to prevent awkwardness or mischief that the assembly would not deal with and the disqualified person from taking oath and sitting in the DUN.

“The interpretation given by Abang Iskandar and Harmindar are too restrictive. If such 2-to-1 decision was to stand, I am sure all the other legislative assemblies and the Dewan Rakyat will face crippling effect in enforcing certain very crucial provisions.”

Asfia pointed out that if the decisions of Parliament and the speaker of the House could be challenged in the court of law and the court overrules the decision of Parliament and speaker of the House, then Parliament and the speakers cease to function.

“In the light of these circumstances, it is inevitable I have to instruct my advocates to make an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court.” — DayakDaily