KUCHING: The High Court here today restored DAP’s Dr Ting Tiong Choon’s post as the state assemblyman for Pujut with immediate effect.
According to the court, the state assembly is not a competent forum to disqualify any state assemblyman as its member.
“I order that there is no vacancy in Pujut for the by-election to be held,” Judge Datuk Douglas Primus Sikayun said today.
The court was ruling on an Originating Summons filed by Dr Ting challenging his disqualification by the state assembly on May 12.
He said the competent forum is the election court as provided for by Article 118 of the Federal Constitution.
The judge said the Federal Court has made it very clear that no election shall be called except by an election petition presented to the High Court with jurisdiction over the proposed by-election seat.
Sikayun said he could not find any other provisions in the federal or state constitutions for the Sarawak state legislative to disqualify any state assemblyman of their membership.
“In the absence of any provision, the state legislative assembly has no power, and to do so would usurp the power of the election court,” he added.
The judge also said that Sarawak Speaker Datuk Mohamad Asfia Awang Nasar had failed to apply the rule of natural justice when he disallowed a request by the plaintiff for a stand down to enable him to prepare his defence before a motion to disqualify him was tabled.
“The Speaker should have allowed for a stand down for the duration granted to the plaintiff,” he said, adding that in rejecting the request, the Speaker showed his impartiality in the state assembly.
He also ordered that the Speaker, International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who tabled the motion to disqualify Dr Ting, and Sarawak state assembly to pay cost of RM100,000 to Dr Ting.
He rejected an application by Shankar Ram Asnani, lawyer for the Speaker, for a stay of his ruling pending appeal to the Court of Appeal.
He said to do so would mean the nomination on June 20 and polling on July 4 for the Pujut by-election would proceed.
Later, Shankar told reporters that he would file an appeal to the appellate court today.
Meanwhile, Dr Ting said what happened on May 12 when a motion tabled by Wong to disqualify him was unjustified and rotten.
“All this while, I believe that we can win back the case in court and the disqualification in the state assembly would be revoked.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not done any sinful thing and against the people of Pujut,” he said, claiming that he had suffered sleepless nights because of it.
In his Originating Summons to challenge the legality of his sacking as the assembly, he has named the Speaker, Wong, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, Sarawak government and Election Commission as respondents.
However, the court struck off the Sarawak government as respondent in the suit.
In his summons, he wanted the court to declare that he is still the Pujut state lawmaker and that his disqualification by the State Assembly on May 12 was null and void.
Source: The Malay Mail Online