DAP wants minister to apologise, withdraw claim sacked lawmaker a bankrupt


KUCHING: DAP filed a motion in the Sarawak state assembly today demanding that state second finance minister Wong Soon Koh withdraw his allegation that dismissed DAP assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon was made a bankrupt twice in Australia.

The motion also demanded that Wong apologise for having “misled” the House on the matter.

Ting was summarily dismissed in an unprecedented motion tabled by Wong last Friday that the assemblyman had once been an Australian citizen.

While presenting the motion, Wong asserted that Ting was declared bankrupt on June 29 and Sept 11 in 2012.

Wong had referred to Ting’s name being listed in the Australian Financial Security Authority personal insolvency index.

Chong told reporters at the Sarawak assembly today that Wong had made the “wrongful assumption that insolvency equates bankruptcy”.

“It’s elementary legal knowledge that insolvency does not equate to bankruptcy,” said Chong who is a lawyer.

“Dr Ting Tiong Choon was never made a bankrupt in Australia and the search referred to in the motion also did not state that he was or is bankrupt,” he said.

According to the Merriam-Webster Legal Dictionary, insolvency is defined as the inability of a person or estate to pay all enforceable debts while bankruptcy is defined as the administration of an insolvent debtor’s property by the court for the benefit of the debtor’s creditors.

The DAP motion claimed Wong’s allegation “misled” the assembly and speaker Mohammad Asfia Awang Nassar to equate insolvency to bankruptcy.

“Insolvency means bankruptcy, yeah?” Asfia was quoted as saying on page 22 of the Hansard of May 12.

Asfia said he would decide on the DAP motion at 5:30pm today.

Chong lamented that DAP had, on last Friday, not been given “even half-an-hour to prepare whereas he (Asfia) requires this motion to be dealt with at 5:30pm. In the House, he is the law,” Chong said.

In Friday’s motion, Wong had said Dr Ting acquired Australian citizenship on Jan 20, 2010, and renounced it on April 4, 2016, just before the Sarawak election on May 8.

At a press conference after the motion was put to a vote, Ting admitted that he did acquire Australian citizenship but he had renounced it. He said the renunciation process took a year but he never gave up his Malaysian citizenship.

Chong argued that Ting was a Malaysian citizen throughout and that the provisions of the Federal Constitution do not explicitly say a Malaysian would automatically be stripped of his citizenship should the person become a citizen of another country which recognised dual citizenship.

Last Sunday, DAP said it would file a lawsuit against Asfia and “all necessary parties” within the month over Ting’s dismissal, saying the interpretation of the constitution should be the purview of the Federal Court alone.