Apex court grants assembly leave to appeal in DAP man’s disqualification as Pujut rep

Sarawak speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: The Federal Court today granted an application of leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal on the disqualification of DAP’s Pujut assemblyman Ting Tiong Choon.

The application of leave was made by Sarawak Speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, Bawan Assan assemblyman Wong Soon Koh and the Sarawak legislative assembly.

Last year, it was reported that the Court of Appeal had upheld a High Court decision that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s disqualification of Ting over his Australian citizenship was unlawful.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the state assembly had no jurisdiction to disqualify Ting as he had renounced his Australian citizenship before he was elected in the May 2016 state election.

Asfia said they had provided 19 reasons why the Federal Court should grant them the leave to appeal against the decision.

One of the reasons posed by Asfia was whether or not the Sarawak legislative assembly had the jurisdiction and constitutional authority to decide or determine the question of whether or not a state legislative assembly member was qualified to be appointed as one in view of Articles 17(1)(g) and 19(1) of the Sarawak constitution read with Article 72(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Besides that, he also questioned whether the Sarawak legislative assembly had the jurisdiction and power to disqualify Ting, pursuant to Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak Constitution on grounds of dual nationality or having held citizenship of another country, be it pre-election or post-election.

He also said the majority in the Court of Appeal and High Court had failed to appreciate several undisputed facts which illustrate that there was no breach of the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness against Ting.

“The first respondent (Ting) and Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen were afforded 50 minutes to speak against the motion.

“They were asked repeatedly to address the factual issue of Ting’s Australian citizenship, which turned out to be true and not in dispute, the pledge of allegiance and the exercise by Ting of his right as an Australian citizen and his positive obligation as a citizen of Australia to vote in the Australian elections.

“Ting chose not to address these allegations specifically, yet has the temerity to allege breach of natural justice,” he said.