DAP rep sacked from Sarawak assembly after Aussie citizenship claim

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KUCHING, May 12 — DAP’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon is now no longer the state assemblyman for Pujut, after a motion to strip his membership was tabled in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly today by state minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

In the motion, the state international trade and e-commerce minister said Dr Ting is no longer qualified, claiming he had acquired an Australian citizenship, registered as a voter there, and pledged allegiance to a country outside the federation of Malaysia.

“Therefore, under Article 17(1)(g) of the State Constitution, he is not a fit and proper person to be a member of the august house,” Soon said.

The house voted 70 in favour and 10 against the motion.

In June last year, Dr Ting had insisted that he does not hold dual Malaysian-Australian citizenship as alleged by his Barisan Nasional (BN) electoral rival in the state poll.

Pujut is one of the three state constituencies under the Miri parliamentary constituency. In the May 7 state election, Ting took Pujut with a majority of 1,759 votes in a four-cornered contest involving DAP, BN, PAS and an Independent candidate.

Tabling the motion, Wong said Dr Ting had acquired the Australian citizenship on January 20, 2010, but never declared to the Election Commission (EC) of his citizenship status.

The second state minister of finance and president of the United People’s Party claimed Dr Ting made a false statutory declaration on April 22, 2016 that he had not lost the qualification to be elected as member of the house.

“This is a very serious offence committed by the member for Pujut,” Wong said, adding that the EC would have disqualified Dr Ting from contesting had he told the EC that he had acquired the Australian citizenship.

He said under Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak Constitution, a person is disqualified to be a member of the State Legislative Assembly if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country, or had declared an allegiance to a country outside the Federation of Malaysia or has become an undischarged bankrupt.

Wong also claimed that Dr Ting had been made a bankrupt twice in Australia, the first time on June 29, 2012 and again on September 11 the same year.

He said Dr Ting’s name appeared under the Insolvency Index of the Australian Financial Security.

Speaking to reporters later,  Dr Ting admitted that he had acquired an Australian citizenship, but had renounced it on April 4, 2016; adding that it had nothing to do with his intention to contest in the May 7, 2016 Sarawak election.

“I have, in fact, applied to renounce my Australian citizenship for about a year and it was approved by the Australian government on April 4 last year,” he said, adding that he still retained his Malaysian citizenship and has registered as voter in Malaysia.

Sarawak DAP chairman and Kota Sentosa state lawmaker Chong Chieng Jen, who was with Dr Ting at the press conference, said the party is looking if it can challenge the decision of the state assembly in court.

“It is not that easy to challenge the decision of the House in court because of the separation of power between the legislative, executive and judiciary,” Chong said.

He accused the state BN of using of “brute” power to disqualify a member of the House.

State Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who is also a lawyer by profession, said a by-election can only be held after the Sarawak Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awant Nasar notifies the EC of a vacancy in Pujut.

“But it is up to the DAP whether to file an injunction to stop the by-election from being held,” he said.

On October 14, 2016, the Election Court dismissed an election petition filed by defeated BN direct candidate Hii King Chiong to challenge the result of the Pujut seat.

Source: Malay Mail

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