KUCHING, June 17 2017 : The High Court here today ruled as unlawful, the State Legislative Assembly (DUN)’s decision to disqualify Dr Ting Tiong Choon as Pujut assemblyman.
Justiice Datuk Douglas Cristo Primus Sikayun also made the order for Dr Ting to be restored as the constituency’s representative.
By virtue of this outcome, there will be no by-election in Pujut even though the Election Commission (EC) had fixed June 20 for nomination and July 4 for polling.
On May 12, Dr Ting was disqualified from being a DUN member as he was alleged to have previously acquired dual citizenship (Malaysia and Australia), after a motion by Sarawak Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh passed with a 70-10 vote.
On June 7, he filed an originating summons to challenge the DUN’s decision in disqualifying him as a member of the August House.
The judge in his ruling said the state assembly was not a competent forum to decide on the membership of Dr Ting based on Article 118 of the Federal Constitution and that the DUN Speaker had wrongly applied Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak constitution.
“The DUN has no expressed powers to deal with election results and is not a competent body to decide constitutional issues,” he held.
He said the DUN speaker had taken the role of prosecutor and had not accurately stated the laws in particular Article 23(1) and 24(1) of the Federal Constitution; therefore, the rule of natural justice had not been complied with and adhered to.
Douglas also noted that the DUN speaker did not accord Dr Ting adequate time and opportunity to defend himself, or take into consideration, the interest of the (8,899) voters.
“Dr Ting Tiong Choon is not a disqualified person and is entitled to remain as elected assemblyman. There is no vacancy for the Pujut seat,” held the judge.
The judge also pointed out that the constitution clearly provided for any party that is dissatisfied with an election result to file an election petition.
“Article 118 provides that the election court shall have exclusive jurisdiction if an election result is challenged,” he said.
Meanwhile, the court also ordered state assembly speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and Sarawak second finance minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh as first and second defendant respectively, to pay RM100,000 costs to the plaintiff.
Dr Ting’s legal team led by Chong Siew Chiang comprised six other lawyers including Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
Meanwhile, in PUTRAJAYA, the Election Commission (EC) accepts the decision of the Kuching High Court that Dr Ting remains as Pujut assemblyman.
EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah in a statement today said EC would take further action in line with the court’s decision.
“The EC will hold a special meeting on this matter to finalise the decision involving the dates that have been fixed prior to this,” he said. – Bernama