KUCHING: Sarawak speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar has thrown out a motion filed by DAP for state Second Finance Minister Wong Soon Koh to withdraw his allegations that dismissed Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon was a bankrupt.
The motion was filed under Standing Order 23(2)(b) by state DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen, who said that Wong had misled the house and should apologise for doing so.
Asfia said because Ting was no longer present in the house, any motion regarding the dismissed assemblyman could not be tabled.
“As a result of the disqualification, the former member ceased to be a member and is physically not in the Dewan,” Asfia said.
“To debate about his financial situation is irrelevant simply because he is not in the Dewan to answer any details that may arise from this motion,” he said.
The decision to dismiss Ting under Article 17(1)(g) of the state constitution is also regarded as final, Asfia said, adding that the matter of Ting’s dismissal concerned his dual citizenship in Australia and not his financial status.
Asfia said should the DAP wish to counter the status of Ting’s alleged bankruptcy, the matter should be taken up with Australia’s financial authorities.
When Chong said Asfia made the “fundamental error” in stating that insolvency is bankruptcy last Friday, Asfia said the two meanings are similar, before proceeding to read out definitions from three legal dictionaries laid before him.
“Again, I emphasise it is Article 17 (1)(g), which is acquiring foreign citizenship and not Article 17 (1)(b). I’ve heard you. It is recorded.
“And this is a search on bankruptcy. He’s (Ting) mentioned,” referring to a printout of a separate bankruptcy search provided by Wong last Friday.
At the press conference after the motion was rejected today, Wong maintained that he was right and that DAP did not address the fact that Ting’s name allegedly still showed up as a bankrupt as recent as last July, two months after the state election concluded in May.
“Now I think it is always the trick of DAP to somehow play on the issue, diverting the attention away from the main issue.”
Wong said he did a search on the Australia’s Bankruptcy Register Search, under the Australian Financial Security Authority.
“He was bankrupt twice as I said… on June 23 and Sept 11 2012,” said Wong, who said he did his search last July.
“Now Kota Sentosa (representative) has said that insolvency does not mean bankruptcy. That he is insolvent, he’s not bankrupt. But he should do the other search I did. The bankruptcy register search,” Wong said.
Wong defended Asfia’s move saying that Ting was out of the Sarawak assembly when the motion was put forward by Chong.
“The motion referred to a person who is not present in the Dewan, which is not fair to him (Ting), because he is not there to defend himself,” Wong said.
“So the motion is out because if you raise any matter relating to a person, he or she has to be present in the house to defend. So he’s not there and so the motion is out,” Wong said.
“And also the speaker has gone to some length explaining the difference between insolvency and bankruptcy. I am not going into the details. That was the ruling by the speaker. Meaning insolvency is similar to bankruptcy, meaning you didn’t take action to rectify your financial situation.”
Wong charged that the DAP courted trouble when they allegedly did not vet their candidates prior to the state election last year.
“That’s why I cautioned DAP yesterday that whenever they are going to select winnable or correct candidates, they have to do a search and scrutinise the background.
“You cannot just pick a professional, particularly a doctor or an engineer, hoping they stand a better chance of winning, but in the end, it turns up like that.
“They say they are taking the matter to court, but our standing order obviously says that the assembly is the supreme body that has the final say and the court may not accept such a challenge. I leave it to the courts if he does bring the case to court.
“The speaker’s decision is final, based on our standing order. Whatever he decides is final,” Wong said.