MIRI: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen has hit out at Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar for ‘going overboard’ in demanding for Dr Ting Tiong Choon to reimburse all his salaries and allowances received prior to his disqualification as the Pujut representative in the august House.
Chong, who is also Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak chairman, pointed this out during a meeting at the DAP Pujut Service Centre here yesterday, where he announced the appointment of Dr Ting as the political secretary to DAP Sarawak chairman.
DAP Sarawak secretary Senator Alang Ling was among those present.
“He (Dr Ting) will continue to serve the people of Pujut and the party (DAP) until the expiry of the current term of the DUN.
“This appointment is with immediate effect from today (Friday),” said Chong, also the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
On Dr Ting’s new appointment, Chong said serving at DAP Pujut Service Centre would not be ‘a salaried job’.
“He (Dr Ting) would have to look for a part-time job to help sustain his (livelihood); still, this is a very responsible person who continues to serve (Pujut constituents), despite being disqualified as assemblyman,” stressed Chong.
Dr Ting was elected Pujut assemblyman in the 2016 state polls. However on May 12, 2017, DUN Sarawak moved to disqualify him on grounds that he held dual citizenship.
Dr Ting argued that he had renounced his Australian citizenship, gained in 2010, just before the state election in 2016.
In this regard, he challenged the Assembly’s decision and won – on June 17, 2018, the High Court ruled that DUN Sarawak’s decision to remove Dr Ting was ‘unlawful’, and that the House had acted outside its constitutional limits.
On July 13 that same year, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision in a two-to-one majority.
This led to Asfia and DUN Sarawak to file appeal with the Federal Court which consequently, led to the ruling by a nine-panel judge of the Federal Court, made known on Tuesday (Feb 11), stating that DUN Sarawak was right in disqualifying Dr Ting as Pujut assemblyman over the issue of his dual citizenship, despite his insistence that he had renounced his Australian citizenship before contesting in the 2016 polls.
In his remarks, Chong viewed the statements by Asfia and other leaders from the state’s ruling coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) regarding the intention to lodge police reports, initiate the process fof revoking Dr Ting’s citizenship and also the demand for the return of remuneration received by Dr Ting during his supposed tenure as Pujut assemblyman, as‘overkill’.
“Dr Ting has served the people and attended all the DUN sittings over the past three years; he is rightfully entitled (to all renumerations) – the DAP would contest against this demand, should it materialise,” said Chong.
He also felt the present conduct of the state government would dampen all efforts to attract Malaysians to return home and serve in Malaysia.
“Dr Ting came back voluntarily to serve as a politician, without any incentive, but he’s ‘persecuted’ when foreigners are welcomed with incentives.
“This would not go down well in attracting talents to Sarawak,” he said.
Chong also ruled out any possibility of Dr Ting’s citizenship being revoked.
“Those concerned about Dr Ting can be rest assured that this is not going to happen.
“No government under the United Nations (UN) treaty would render any person ‘stateless’, as this is against basic human rights.
“Even the BN (Barisan Nasional) government (back then) did not revoke his citizenship when this issue blew up,” he added.