Sunday, May 26

Dr Ting stays as Pujut rep, High Court rules against DUN’s decision disqualifying him


Dr Ting, flanked by Chieng Jen and Yong, speaks to reporters outside the court. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: There will be no Pujut by-election this July 4, following the High Court ruling yesterday against the State Legislative Assembly (DUN)’s decision of disqualifying Dr Ting Tiong Choon as Pujut assemblyman.

High Court Judge Datuk Douglas Christo Primus Sikayun delivered his ruling in favour of the application by Dr Ting’s legal team, led by Counsel Chong Siew Chiang.

The judge determined that the plaintiff  “is not a disqualified person and stands to be the elected (DUN) member of N.74 Pujut.”

Douglas also ordered the first defendant DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and second defendant Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh to – jointly or severally – pay a cost of RM100,000 to the plaintiff.

In making his ruling, the judge said the DUN ought to delay the decision (on disqualifying Dr Ting) and go to the right body (the court) to determine, and let the decision (by the court) be referred to the august House and then, put to a vote.

He also told the court that the DUN ‘is not a competent body to decide constitutional issues’; that the DUN Speaker did not afford the plaintiff adequate time to defend his case.

The judge pointed out that the issue on the renunciation of the Australian citizenship under Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak State Constitution must be discussed in-depth, while the interest of the 8,899 voters – who voted for Dr Ting during the state election last year – should also be taken into consideration.

At some point in delivering his ruling, Douglas quoted the Hansard and said the DUN Speaker must have acted non-constitutionally and in excess of his power.

He said the Speaker had taken on the role of the prosecutor and had not interpreted Article 23(1) and Article 24(1) of the Federal Constitution accurately.

Moreover, Douglas said the rule of natural justice had also not been complied with and adhered to.

Following the decision, the legal team of the respondents requested to file an appeal against it, but this was dismissed by the judge, who then informed the legal team that they could submit an application on another day.

On May 12, the DUN disqualified Dr Ting as Pujut assemblyman in a 70-10 vote in favour of a ministerial motion tabled by Wong.

Dr Ting then filed an Originating Summons in the High Court on June 7 to challenge that decision.

Met by reporters outside the High Court yesterday, Dr Ting said he had thought right from the beginning that what happened on May 12 was ‘unjust and very rotten’.

“All this while, I believe that if it was according to the proper legal procedure, that we could win back the case. The disqualification in DUN would be revoked.

“What we have listened in the court today confirms that what the Speaker had done in DUN was very unfair and unjust. I think this case would give the Speaker and all the Barisan Nasional YBs (BN elected representatives) a lesson – that they need to do (according to the) proper procedure; not just follow whatever the Speaker said,” he stressed.

Dr Ting then added: “I always believe that I haven’t done anything wrong. I have done my best; I haven’t done any wrongful thing against the people of Pujut.

“So I slept well – I haven’t had one night that I didn’t sleep.”

Dr Ting later extended his gratitude to his legal team for their concerted efforts in making the case a success.

Dr Ting’s counsels also included Tan Kee Heng, Wong King Wei and Michael Kong.

Bandar Kuching MP and state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, Tanjong Batu assemblyman Chiew Chin Sing and Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong were among those present at the court yesterday.

Dr Ting (second left), with (from left) King Wei, Chiew, Tan, Siew Chiang, Chieng Jen, Yong and other supporters gather for a photo-call at the High Court. — Photos by Kong Jun Liung