Federal Court rules DUN right in disqualifying Dr Ting

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has ruled that the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly was right in disqualifying Dr Ting Tiong Choon as the assemblyman for Pujut over his dual citizenship status.

Dr Ting Tiong Choon

It overturned a Court of Appeal ruling in a 7-2 majority decision, and cited Article 19 of the Sarawak Constitution and Article 72 of the Federal Constitution which state, respectively, that the assembly has the final say in such a matter and that assembly proceedings cannot be questioned in any court.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat presided over the nine-member bench. 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.

Dr Ting was disqualified as the state assemblyman on May 12, 2017, for having Malaysian and Australian citizenship following a motion tabled by the then Sarawak International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

The medical practitioner filed an originating summons at the Kuching High Court on June 7, 2017, to challenge the assembly’s decision.

On June 17, 2017, the High Court ruled that it was unlawful for the assembly to disqualify Dr Ting as an assemblyman.

Following an appeal, the Court of Appeal, in 2-1 decision on July 13, 2018, ruled that the assembly had exceeded its power in renouncing Dr Ting’s membership as an assemblyman on the basis of his dual citizenship.

Dr Ting had given up his Australian citizenship before being nominated as an electoral candidate for Pujut.

Sarawak state assembly speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar; the Sarawak state assembly and Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who is the Second Finance Minister, had appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Following the Federal Court ruling yesterday, Dr Ting will no longer be the assemblyman for Pujut.

Election Commission officers following the case in court said, however, that it is for the speaker of the assembly to decide whether to seek a by-election because the vacancy has come about less than two years from the end of the current term of the assembly, which is in June next year. – Bernama