Sarawak assembly to appeal court decision on Pujut assemblyman

Abdul Karim says the appeal against the recent Federal Court decision is about the powers and the obligation of the members of the assembly. – Bernama Photo
Abdul Karim says the appeal against the recent Federal Court decision is about the powers and the obligation of the members of the assembly. – Bernama Photo

KUCHING: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly approved a motion for it apply for leave to appeal to the Federal Court against a Court of Appeal decision upholding a High Court judgment reinstating Dr Ting Tiong Choon as the rightful Pujut assemblyman.

Sixty-eight assemblymen voted for and seven against the motion which was tabled by Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Abdul Karim said at a press conference later that the motion was intended neither as a personal vendetta against nor as the political persecution of Dr Ting.

“This is about the powers and the obligation of the members of this august House to protect the sanctity of the House.

“He has the status of an Australian citizen and the government was not informed about this. We want a decision from the Federal Court," he said.

On July 13, the Court of Appeal, in a majority decision, dismissed the appeal of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly against the High Court decision to reinstate Dr Ting as a member of the House.

The appellate court dismissed the appeal brought by State Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nasar and Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh against the High Court decision.

Judges Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal concurred to dismiss the appeal, stating that the State Assembly did not have the jurisdiction to disqualify Dr Ting before his election.

Judge Mary Lim Thiam Suan dissented, saying Dr Ting was not qualified to be elected as an assemblyman as he had taken on Australian citizenship.

Judge Abang Iskandar, when reading out the judgment, said the Sarawak Assembly was not the appropriate forum to decide on the membership of Dr Ting under Article 118 of the Federal Constitution and the Speaker of the Assembly had wrongly applied Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak State Constitution. - Bernama