DAP loses Pujut state seat after top court rules Dr Ting disqualified for dual citizenship

The Sarawak assembly moved to disqualify Dr Ting Tiong Choon (centre) on May 12, 2017 on grounds he held dual citizenship despite the DAP man’s argument that he had renounced his Australian citizenship. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
The Sarawak assembly moved to disqualify Dr Ting Tiong Choon (centre) on May 12, 2017 on grounds he held dual citizenship despite the DAP man’s argument that he had renounced his Australian citizenship. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 ― Dr Ting Tiong Choon of DAP has been stripped as Pujut assemblyman after the Federal Court ruled in a majority decision today that the Sarawak State Assembly was correct to disqualify him.

No by-election will be held as the three-year timeframe has lapsed, Malaysiakini reported. Sarawak is also expected to go to the polls next year.

Seven out of nine judges at the nation’s highest court today ruled in favour of Dr Ting’s disqualification, overturning the earlier decisions made by the High Court at Kuching and the Court of Appeal.

The Sarawak assembly moved to disqualify Dr Ting on May 12, 2017 on grounds he held dual citizenship despite the DAP man’s argument that he had renounced his Australian citizenship, which he gained in 2010, just before the 2016 Sarawak state election.

The House cited Article 17 (1) (g) of the Sarawak Constitution, which states that a person is disqualified from public office if he or she had voluntarily obtained or exercised the right of citizenship in any other country.

Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship.

Dr Ting had previously challenged the assembly’s decision to disqualify him and won in court.

On June 17, 2018, the High Court ruled that the assembly’s decision to remove Ting was unlawful and the House had acted outside its constitutional limits.

On July 13, 2018, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision in a two-to-one majority.

This led to Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and the state assembly to file an appeal with the Federal Court, and today’s decision.

Dr Ting is said to have accepted the top court decision with an “open heart”, The Borneo Post reported separately.

“Basically and officially, I have been disqualified by the seven judges who agreed to the appeal while the two judges; the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak and Chief Judge of Malaya, have very interesting comments and conclusions about the majority,” he was quoted saying.

He added that it is a “very sad day” for the Sarawak Constitution where the state assembly can make a decision by simple majority.

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