Sunday, September 20

Sarawak heading into political dark ages, claims ousted Pujut rep


Dr Ting Tiong Choon.

KUCHING: Fresh off his disqualification as Pujut assemblyman, Dr Ting Tiong Choon today claimed that Sarawak is headed towards an authoritarian government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

“Sarawak politics under GPS, is now on a slippery slope to an authoritarian government and into dark political age as in old Zimbabwe and South Africa,” the Democratic Action Party leader said in a Facebook post this evening.

Dr Ting lost the state seat after the Federal Court in Putrajaya on Tuesday decided in favour of the State Legislative Assembly’s decision to disqualify him as a member as he had had dual citizenship.

In the 7-2 majority decision, the apex court overturned the earlier decisions of the Court of Appeal and Kuching High Court that reinstated him as an assemblyman, citing Article 19 of the Sarawak Constitution and Article 72 of the Federal Constitution which state that the Dun has the final say in such a matter and that the assembly proceedings cannot be questioned in any court.

Dr Ting pointed out in the Facebook post that Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, in his dissenting judgement, had implied that the decision had set a dangerous precedent where the Speaker of a legislative assembly may choose to disregard all basic principles including the separation of powers and res judicata, which is a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court and therefore may not be pursued further by the same parties.

“This ruling may open the Pandora box where disgruntled election candidates who have been defeated in their election petition may use the legislative assembly as a backdoor to disqualify a winning candidate,” he added.

In this respect, Dr Ting said GPS as the government of Sarawak that has the majority in DUN, may move a motion, pass it and thereafter disqualify any of its members without any repercussions.

Dr Ting, who had acquired Australian citizenship in 2010, was disqualified as an elected representative on May 12, 2017, following a motion tabled by the then Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

Seventy out of the DUN’s 82 members had supported the motion.

Dr Ting filed an Originating Summons in the Kuching High Court on June 7 that same year to challenge the DUN decision.

The High Court subsequently ruled against the DUN’s decision to disqualify Dr Ting.
In July last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed by DUN, Speaker Dauk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and Wong, ruling that the DUN had exceeded its power when it disqualified Dr Ting on the basis of his dual citizenship although Dr Ting had given up the citizenship before being nominated as a candidate in the 2016 state polls.

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

  • This report has been amended to reflect the changes Dr Ting has made to his initial Facebook post.