Tuesday, March 28

Dr Ting loses Pujut state seat in Federal Court majority decision


Dr Ting Tiong Choon

KUCHING: Democratic Action Party’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon has been disqualified as the assemblyman for Pujut following the Federal Court decision in Putrajaya today over the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly’s action against him due to his past dual citizenship.

The decision of the Court of Appeal and the Kuching High Court that reinstated Dr Ting as Pujut assemblyman were set aside in a seven to two majority decision this morning.

The Federal Court found that the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) has the power to disqualify Ting as a member for having dual citizenship despite him renouncing it before contesting in the last state election.

The lower court had ruled that the DUN has no power to disqualify its members.

Apart from the DUN, the other appellants in the appeal case today were former Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, the State government and the Election Commission.

The Federal court panel of judges led by Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat also ruled that DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar had not breached natural justice when allowing Dr Ting’s disqualification as a member of the august House.

The other judges were Court of Appeal president Datuk Rohana Yusuf; Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri David Wong Dak Wah and Federal Court judges Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli; Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh; Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan; Datuk Ong Lam Kiat; Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim.

Counsels Tan Sri Cecil Abraham and Shankar Ram represented Asfia, Jonathan Tay represented Wong and the State-Attorney general Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid represented the State government. The Election Commission was represented by Shamsul Bahrain.

Dr Ting was represented by a legal team led by Chong Siew Chiang.

Asfia, meanwhile, had given an explanation of the court decision with a post on Instagram after the court delivered its ruling.

“The Majority decision of the Federal Court found that the majority decision of the Court of Appeal was wrong because Article 17(1)(g) of the State Constitution read with Article 19(1) of State Constitution gives the power to DUN to disqualify Ting who from inception had this continuing disqualification having acquired Australian Citizenship.

“This is unforgivable and it involves the question of loyalty to Malaysia. There was also no breach of Natural Justice by the Speaker,” he said.

Dr Ting, who had acquired Australian citizenship in 2010, was disqualified as an elected representative on May 12, 2017, following a motion tabled by Wong.

He then filed an Originating Summons in the Kuching High Court on June 7 that same year to challenge the decision by the DUN to disqualify him.

The High Court subsequently ruled against the DUN’s decision to disqualify Dr Ting as Pujut assemblyman.

In July last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed by DUN, Asfia and Wong, ruling that the DUN had exceeded its power when it disqualified Dr Ting on the basis of his dual citizenship, which Dr Ting had given up before being nominated as a candidate.

The Federal Court granted the application for leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal later that month.