KUCHING: Political Secretary to the Chief Minister Tan Kai slams Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen for trying to deceive Sarawakians into thinking that Australian Permanent Resident (PR) and citizenship are the same.
He said Chong, being a veteran lawyer and politician, should be truthful instead of trying to divert the attention from former Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon’s Australian citizenship case by bringing up Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian’s Australian PR status.
“A person with a (Australian) PR cannot be involved in (Australian) elections, cast a vote, and cannot become a candidate, whereas a person with a citizenship can.
“The second point is a person with a PR cannot enjoy government medical benefits and cannot buy government housing. Whereas with citizenship, you can.
“Most importantly, a PR is not required to pledge loyalty to that country, in this case is Australia, whereas citizenship you have to pledge loyalty,” Tan explained.
He was replying to Chong’s statement yesterday comparing Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) President Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian’s Australian PR status and former Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon’s Australian citizenship.
In reply to Chong, Dr Sim yesterday clarified that while he was in Australia for 17 years, he never acquired Australian citizenship or exercised rights of citizenship in or made any declaration of allegiance to any country outside the Federation of Malaysia.
Dr Ting on the other hand, he added, chose to serve in Australia after having completed his medical studies and obtained his citizenship in Australia.
“By applying his Australian citizenship, (Dr) Ting swore his loyalty to Australia and this is not required for permanent residence applicants.
“I came back to serve Sarawak and eventually was elected as a state assemblyman for Batu Kawah as a Sarawakian,” stressed Dr Sim who is also Local Government and Housing Minister.
To support Dr Sim’s point, Tan said PR is basically just a travel document which has an expiry date, whereas a citizenship does not have any expiry date.
“Citizenship makes you a citizen of Australia and hence provides all the rights to a citizen of Australia. PR only gives you the right to live in Australia.
“How can Chong, a veteran lawyer, tell people that PR is equivalent to citizenship? Even the name is different,” he said.
Tan said Chong probably did that to divert the attention from the decision of the federal court, and put all the blame on the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.
“The judge made the decision, not the speaker,” he said.