KUCHING: A Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) leader has sought to distance himself from DAP’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon despite their shared backgrounds in having spent a significant amount of time in Australia.
Dr Sim Kui Hian also hit out at DAP for asking whether the same scrutiny would be placed on other Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders, following today’s ruckus in the state assembly over Dr Ting’s disqualification as Pujut assemblyman.
The move, which is unprecedented in Malaysia, saw the Sarawak assembly voting to disqualify Dr Ting for once having Australian citizenship.
He was disqualified under Article 17(1)(g) of the state constitution, which states that a person is disqualified from being elected as a member of the Sarawak assembly if he has voluntarily acquired citizenship or exercised rights of citizenship in, or has made a declaration of allegiance to, any country outside the federation.
Seventy BN lawmakers voted in support of the motion while 10 opposition lawmakers opposed it.
During the debate on the motion put forward by Second Finance Minister Wong Soon Koh, state DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen asked whether other BN leaders would be subjected to the same scrutiny.
Dr Sim, who is assemblyman for Batu Kawah, was singled out as an example, having spent 17 years in Australia prior to his return to Malaysia.
However, he defended himself, saying that he was never a citizen of Australia.
“I spent 17 years in Australia as a high school student, as a medical student, as a specialist,” Dr Sim told reporters after today’s proceedings.
“And the minute I completed my training as a specialist, I went back to Malaysia,” he said.
He also lashed out at DAP over its “double standards”, saying he only served at public hospitals and never went in for the money.
“All this time, I never took Australian citizenship. The difference is when I came back, I worked in a public hospital, I set up a heart centre for the people.
“Unlike the other party (DAP), (where) they always criticise (others) and their doctors work in private, making money for themselves and yet serving the public (as lawmakers).”
Dr Sim also expressed regret that he was not given the opportunity to speak during the debate.
“It’s very unfair to me that I did not have a chance to stand up a few times (in the assembly) to say something.
“My learned colleagues are practising lawyers and (they) keep arguing about facts, yet they are practising double standards.”
However, DAP has hit back at the accusations, with Chong’s special assistant, Abdul Aziz Isa, calling the motion a “blatant disregard” of the voters’ choice and disrespect of the democratic processes.
DAP’s Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang added that today’s proceedings set a dangerous precedent for the state.
“We see a crossover of the functions of judiciary, executive and legislative. This is the basic principle of a democratic country, the separations of powers,” she told FMT.
“What happened today was a travesty of this democratic principle. The checks and balance purpose of the intention of having three branches of the government is now at risk. To me, today is a sad day.”