Court throws out suit against govt, four others over HSR cancellation

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has allowed an application by the government and four others to strike out a suit by a member of the public for alleged abuse of public office and negligence over the cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project.

On Friday (Dec 15), Judicial Commissioner Roz Mawar Rozain struck out the suit on the grounds that plaintiff Mohd Hatta Sanuri had no locus standi to commence the suit and it was an abuse of the court process.

She also ordered Mohd Hatta to pay costs of RM10,000.

Mohd Hatta filed the suit on his own behalf and on behalf of the more than 32 million Malaysians allegedly affected by the cancellation of the project, on Dec 30 last year.

Besides the government, former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, he also named former minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and former transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong as defendants.

ALSO READ: Court can’t hear suit over HSR cancellation, says Solicitor-General

In his statement of claim, Mohd Hatta sought a court order to declare the cancellation of the project null and void, as well as for all the defendants to pay RM1mil compensation to him and all Malaysians for wrongfully and negligently cancelling the HSR project.

Roz Mawar, in her judgment, said in this case, the plaintiff’s capacity to represent the interest of all Malaysian citizens in a legal capacity was not substantiated by the relevant legal standards.

"So nothing in the statement of claim shows that the plaintiff's private or personal rights were interfered with by the defendants, or in the event of an interference, with a right that is common to all members of the public, if he suffers special damages peculiar to himself.

"Moreover, it is observed that the plaintiff, who claims to represent the Malaysian public, had failed to disclose in his statement of claim that he was indeed authorised or appointed to represent each Malaysian taxpayer or citizen,” she said.

She also said the plaintiff, in embarking on the suit, incurred public costs, whereby precious judicial resources had to be spent ploughing through the plaintiff’s lengthy and convoluted statement of claim, which did not disclose a reasonable course of action.

"The reasonable and logical conclusion was that this suit was not filed by the plaintiff in good faith. This is an abuse of the court process,” she said.

Roz Mawar said the courts and the judiciary should refrain from engaging in matters that fall squarely within the domain of the executive and legislative branches.

"Entertaining the suit would set a precedent for judicial overreach into policy decisions, which is contrary to the separation of powers principle.

"The business of the judiciary, specifically this court is to administer justice, rights and liabilities,” she said.

Lawyer Nur Izatul Nabila Nazarudin represented Mohd Hatta, while Senior Federal Counsel Donald Joseph Franklin acted for all the defendants.

On Jan 1, 2021, Malaysia and Singapore announced the termination of the 350km HSR project, as the two countries failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by Malaysia before the project agreement expired on Dec 31, 2020.

Accordingly, Malaysia paid S$102.8mil (RM320.27mil) in compensation to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the project and related to the extension of its suspension.

The project was expected to provide three main services: direct travel between Malaysia and Singapore within 90 minutes; domestic service in Malaysia; and shuttle service from Iskandar Puteri in Johor to Singapore. – Bernama

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