Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp) has denied that sacked Sarawak assemblyperson Dr Ting Tiong Choon was a returnee under its Returning Expert Programme (REP).
TalentCorp chief executive officer Shareen Shariza Abdul Ghani said this in reference to Ting, who claimed he had “renounced his Australian citizenship after he was recruited by TalentCorp to return to Malaysia”.
Last week, the Sarawak state assembly voted to disqualify Ting from his Pujut seat for purportedly holding an Australian citizenship.
According to Shareen, TalentCorp's records showed that Ting was not a returnee under the REP nor did he qualify for the REP incentives.
She said this is because at the point of application in May 2014 despite being granted a conditional approval in September the same year, Ting did not show proof that he had returned home and secured employment in order to be issued his Surat Akuan Tarikh Kembali (SATK).
"In addition, he also failed to fulfill other conditions as specified by the REP committee," she added in a media statement.
However, Ting insisted that he had registered with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) although the process was delayed for a few months.
He also showed Malaysiakini a photograph of the document.
"I have also obtained the MMC-issued annual practising certificate back in 2015, allowing me to work in Sarawak or any place in Malaysia.
"The only thing I have not done was to report to the REP. The incentives were never my sole reason to return home to serve the Sarawakians," he told Malaysiakini.
Shareen further explained that all REP applications from medical professionals will be first tabled for consideration by the Joint Working Committee-Healthcare Talent (JWC-HT).
Members of this committee include personnel from the Health Ministry, the MMC, National Specialist Register (NSR) and several co-opted members.
"The JWC-HT’s role is to review the academic qualifications and work experience of applicants to determine their eligibility under the REP. It then sends its recommendations to the REP committee.
"In the case of Dr Ting, his conditional approval required him to provide a letter of employment as a medical officer in rural areas and also his registration with the MMC," she added.
Upon approval, Shareen said all REP applicants have up to two years to return and secure employment in Malaysia before they are issued the SATK by TalentCorp in order to be deemed as REP returnees and benefit from the incentives under the programme.
"At the point of application, Dr Ting held a valid Malaysian passport which qualified him to apply for the REP. Under the REP, permanent resident holders are allowed to apply for the programme if they can show proof that they are still Malaysian citizens.
"Additionally, applicants need to meet strict criteria relating to academic qualifications, total work experience, income level and tenure abroad.
"They must also work in high-skill occupations identified in the critical occupations list as well as work and live abroad at the time of application," she added.
The motion to disqualify Ting was tabled by Sarawak Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Wong Soon Koh.
Wong had cited Article 17(1)(g) of the Sarawak Constitution, saying that any person who willingly obtains foreign citizenship or exercises the rights of a foreign citizenship would be disqualified from being a state assemblyperson.
Sarawak DAP is set to challenge the validity of Ting’s disqualification in court.
Commenting further on the matter, Ting claimed the real issue with regard to his disqualification was never about his citizenship.
"I am a Sarawakian who is duly nominated and successfully elected by the voters of Pujut.
"The issue was discussed before the nomination, during the election campaign and after the election," he pointed out.- Mkini