Hornbill Unleashed

June 21, 2017

DUN to appeal Pujut case

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Image result for constitutional authority of legislature, judiciaryThe State Legislative Assembly (DUN) will appeal to the Court of Appeal against Kuching High Court’s judgement last Saturday on Dr Ting Tiong Choon’s membership in the august House as it would be in the interest of the state.

According to Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relationship and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, there is a need to determine with a greater degree of clarity the precise boundaries of constitutional authority between the two branches of the government; namely the legislature (DUN) and the judiciary which is essential for a functional democracy.

“The High Court has decided that the Dewan (DUN) has acted outside its constitutional limits when passing the motion to disqualify the Member for Pujut despite the provisions of Article 19(1) of the State Constitution which declared that such a decision of the Dewan is final.

“Thus a more authoritative judicial determination from a higher court of this important matter is essential on the issue

when or whether judicial intervention of the Dewan’s proceedings is permissible under the doctrine of separation of powers between the various branches of government,” Sharifah Hasidah clarified in a press statement yesterday.

She also said that a proper interpretation of the provisions of Article 17(1)(g) of the State Constitution on disqualification from election to the august house when a person acquired foreign citizenship is required.

“The High Court has not in its judgement come out with a definitive interpretation of this Article.

“Therefore, on appeal the higher court could provide this interpretation to provide guidance to all relevant public bodies including the Election Commission (EC) and aspiring elected candidates, as whether a person is still qualified to seek election to the Dewan once he acquired citizenship of another nation regardless of his subsequent renouncement of that citizenship.”

Sharifah Hasidah said the decision by the appellate court on these issues will not only determine whether Dr Ting should vacate his seat in the august house under Article 18(2)(a) of the State Constitution, but more importantly, the decision would ultimately avoid future controversies on the precise constitutional boundaries between the legislature and the judiciary so that the state could have a stable and functional system of democratic government conducive for sustaining the harmony and development progress of Sarawak.

She said the Notice of Appeal will be filed by the State Attorney General on behalf of the august house within the time prescribed by the relevant Rules of Court.

DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, through his lawyer Shankar Ram Asnani, had filed for an appeal on Monday to challenge the Kuching High Court’s decision. International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said he would be filing a notice of appeal soon, adding that he would leave it to the State Attorney General.

Sharifah Hasidah said she made this clarification following comments and analysis on Kuching High Court’s judgment that had appeared in the print and social media.

On June 17, High Court judge Datuk Douglas Christo Primus Sikayun ruled in favour of Dr Ting, thus reinstating him as Pujut assemblyman.

In making his ruling, the judge said the DUN was not a competent forum to disqualify any of its members and that only the Election Court could decide on the membership status of any assemblyman as provided for under Article 118 of the Federal Constitution.

Douglas also found that Asfia had failed to apply the rule of natural justice when dismissing Dr Ting during the May 12 DUN sitting, apart from failing to provide him ample time to prepare his defence before a motion to disqualify him was tabled.

The High Court also said that Asfia had failed to take into account the interest of the 8,899 voters who voted for Dr Ting during the state election last year.

Wong tabled the ministerial motion to disqualify Dr Ting for allegedly acquiring Australian citizenship in 2010.

The EC previously announced a by-election for Pujut on July 4, but cancelled it following the Court’s decision last Saturday.

Source : The Borneo Post Online by Jonathan Chia



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