KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — A DAP leader who was disqualified as Pujut state representative by the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly yesterday may also be stripped of his Malaysian citizenship, a lawyer said today.
Constitutional lawyer Nizam Bashir said Dr Ting Tiong Choon could be deprived of his citizenship should Putrajaya find enough proof to indicate that he had indeed acquired Australian citizenship as alleged.
“It’s regulated by Article 24 of the Federal Constitution,” Nizam told Malay Mail Online.
“He may deprived of his citizenship if the Federal Government is satisfied that he has acquired citizenship of another country.”
Article 24(1) states that the government may deprive a person of his citizenship should he or she acquired a citizenship in another country.
Malaysia are among the many countries in the world that prohibits dual citizenships.
Yesterday, the Sarawak assembly voted to disqualify Dr Ting after a motion to strip his membership was tabled by state minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.
In the motion, the state international trade and e-commerce minister said Dr Ting is no longer qualified, claiming he had acquired an Australian citizenship, registered as a voter there, and pledged allegiance to a country outside the federation of Malaysia.
Futile to challenge state assembly
Legally, Dr Ting may still challenge the decision in court, according to Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has also been reported recommending the same course of action.
But Nizam said initiating a legal petition would be a futile exercise since the country’s Supreme Law had clearly outlined that no court could nullify a resolution passed by a legislative assembly.
“There is Article 72(1) of the Federal Constitution to contend with in the first place, that is the validity of proceedings in the Legislative Assembly shall not be questioned in any court.
“So broadly speaking it looks like a court action is a dead end,” he said.
Despite that, the dispute over his alleged dual citizenship would be determined not by the courts, but a committee of inquiry consisting of a chairman and two other members to be appointed by the government.
Heavy burden of proof
Article 27(1) of the Federal Constitution states that the government will first have to issue a written notice to Dr Ting to explain the reasons should they decide to cancel his citizenship.
The subsequent sub-clause states that the person could challenge the decision before the three-men panel led by a chairman with a judicial background. The committee will then submit its findings to the government for a final decision.
But the probability for the government to strip the DAP leader’s Malaysian citizenship was highly dependent upon the proof, Nizam stressed.
“I am also not too comfortable in assuming that the Federal Government will decide to deprive the former Assemblyman of his citizenship.
“It depends on evidence,” the lawyer said.
In June last year, Dr Ting had insisted that he does not hold dual Malaysian-Australian citizenship as alleged by his Barisan Nasional (BN) electoral rival in the state polls.
Pujut is one of the three state constituencies under the Miri parliamentary constituency. In the May 7 state election, Ting took Pujut with a majority of 1,759 votes in a four-cornered contest involving DAP, BN, PAS and an independent candidate.
Tabling the motion, Wong said Dr Ting had acquired the Australian citizenship on January 20, 2010, but never declared to the Election Commission of his citizenship status.