“The emergency meeting would give the state assembly the authority to file an appeal against the court’s ruling”
KUCHING: Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen urged Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg to convene an emergency meeting of the Sarawak state assembly following the High Court ruling on the Pujut seat.
Chong noted that Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nassar had named the state legislative assembly as one of the respondents in his appeal against the court ruling, saying it amounted to a “constitutional crisis”.
“When the Speaker has named the legislative body as one of the respondents in the appeal against the High Court’s ruling to reinstate Dr Ting’s post as the Pujut state assemblyman, he can no longer act as head of the legislative body,” Chong told reporters after delivering a copy of his letter to the chief minister to the Speaker’s office.
“With the Speaker taking action against the state assembly itself, then definitely the House is surely facing constitutional crisis,” the Kota Sentosa state assemblyman added.
Earlier, he hand-delivered the letter to the Chief Minister’s Office calling on Abang Johari to convene the emergency meeting.
Chong who is also a lawyer said he is puzzled by the Speaker’s action in naming the Sarawak state assembly as one of the respondents in his appeal against judge Datuk Douglas Primus Sikayun’s ruling that reinstated Dr Ting Tiong Choon as the Pujut asemblyman.
“The Speaker has implied that he is making the state assembly as one of his opponents. This is ridiculous,” he said, adding that the state assembly is an institution headed by the Speaker.
Chong, who is also the Bandar Kuching MP, said the emergency meeting would give the state assembly the authority to file an appeal against the court’s ruling.
He claimed that the state assembly has no authority to file the appeal unless there is a resolution passed at the emergency meeting to be chaired by the Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.
“The Speaker should not chair the meeting because he is an interested party in Dr Ting’s suit, otherwise, whatever resolution is passed, it will be unlawful,” Chong said.
Contacted by Malay Mail Online, the Speaker’s counsel Shankar Ram Asnani said he knows what he is doing.
“We want to bring all the interested parties into the appeal, with Dr Ting as the first respondent while the others are as second, third and fourth co-friendly respondents,” he said, referring to International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, the state legislative assembly and the Election Commission.
He said if the three are not named as co-friendly respondents, then the Speaker’s appeal case could be fatal.
Shankar said it is up to the Speaker what to do in the appeal, and not for Chong to interfere in how things should be done.
He said there is nothing confusing for the Speaker to name the state assembly as one of the respondents in the appeal.
“It is unethical for Chong to call for a press conference on the appeal by the Speaker,” Shankar added.
The Speaker filed his appeal with the Court of Appeal two days ago.
On June 17, judge Sikayun ruled that the state assembly was not a competent forum, but the election court, to determine whether Dr Ting was qualified or otherwise to be the Pujut state assemblyman.
On May 12, Dr Ting was stripped of his membership for the Pujut seat after a ministerial motion was supported by 70 state Barisan Nasional assemblymen, but was rejected by 10 from the Opposition.
Wong tabled the motion to disqualify Dr Ting for voluntarily acquired an Australian citizenship in 2010, but renounced it before the May 2016 state election.
Source: The Malay Mail Online