Halim Saad’s suit struck out

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others have successfully struck out a lawsuit by business tycoon Tan Sri Halim Saad over losses allegedly suffered during the government’s takeover of Renong Bhd and United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) Bhd in 2001.

High Court judge Judicial Commissioner Dr Suzana Muhamad Said allowed the striking out application by the former premier, former finance minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and the government on the basis of limitation of time (statute of limitations).

In his statement of claim, Halim said the government had made a compulsory acquisition by virtue of Khazanah Nasional Bhd effecting a take-over of UEM between July and October 2001, which resulted in Halim’s Renong shares being devalued and him suffering massive losses.

JC Suzana noted that Halim had another lawsuit in 2013 that was disposed of and whatever issues raised then were bound by the principle of res judicata (a matter that has been finally juridically decided on its merits and cannot be litigated again between the same parties) and limitation of time.

“There is a reason why there is a limitation. It is to put a stop to unnecessary action being taken especially after a period of time.

“To me, the occasion was in 2001. It has been more than 20 years and also considering the fact that the (other) lawsuit in 2013, after more than 10 years, then only this case is brought forward to the court,” she said in her brief grounds of judgment after hearing oral submissions from both parties here yesterday.

Halim had filed a similar lawsuit on April 17, 2013, against Khazanah Nasional, Nor Mohamed and the government to claim for damages of more than RM1.8bil for selling his interests in Renong.

On Oct 31, 2013, the High Court allowed a striking out application by Khazanah Nasional, Nor Mohamed and the government on grounds that Halim had filed the suit after a six-year time-frame, as required under the Limitation Act 1953.

JC Suzana also said that as she had allowed the defendants’ striking out application, there was no necessity for the court to consider Halim’s application to refer two constitutional questions to the Federal Court relating to the suit.

She allowed a cost of RM10,000 to be borne by Halim.

Halim was represented by lawyers Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Surendra Ananth.

Senior Federal Counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly appeared for the defendants – Dr Mahathir, Nor Mohamed and the government.

On Aug 2 last year, Halim filed the suit against the defendants.

He claimed that Renong held 37.92% shares in UEM and that he was the single largest individual shareholder in Renong, and was in control of Renong.

Halim said the acquisition and the deprivation of his rights as the controlling shareholder of Renong, which were key aspects of the acquisition exercise by the government, were effected or caused without any compensation being paid to him and this was in contravention of Article 13 of the Federal Constitution.

The plaintiff sought a court order for the government to pay the plaintiff an unspecified compensation, or alternatively, general damages to be assessed by the court, as well as exemplary and aggravated damages, interests, costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

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