Court has no jurisdiction to hear suit related to HSR project

KUALA LUMPUR – The court has no jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit regarding the Cabinet’s decision to cancel the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project, as the decision involved a matter of public policy.

Solicitor General Datuk Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh said this through an affidavit in support of the application of the government and four political figures to strike out the suit filed by Mohd Hatta Sanuri, 47, regarding the cancellation of the infrastructure project involving Malaysia and Singapore.

Ahmad Terrirudin, through an affidavit filed in the High Court here on April 7, claimed that the issue was not within the court’s jurisdiction, because the Cabinet’s decision was based on negotiations with Singapore as well as a study of the country’s economic interests and costs.

Mohd Hatta, as the plaintiff, filed the suit on Dec 30, naming two former Prime Ministers, namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin; former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed; former Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and the government, as the first to fifth defendants.

Ahmad Terriudin claimed that the five defendants had used their authority correctly regarding the Cabinet’s decision to initially delay the project and then cancel it.

“I truly believe and assert that the plaintiff’s action is very clearly indefensible, because the plaintiff does not have locus standi to file this action, and the defendant’s decision is a public policy decision that cannot be tried by any court.

“With that, I truly believe and state that this action is frivolous, inconvenient and abusing the process of this honourable court. Besides, the plaintiff also has no interest either directly or indirectly in the matter, in fact, he has no legal right to file a civil action on behalf of all other Malaysians,” Ahmad Terrirudin claimed.

On Jan 1, 2021, Malaysia and Singapore announced the termination of the 350-kilometre 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$102.8 million (RM320.27 million) in compensation to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project and related to the extension of its suspension.

The project was expected to provide three main services, which were direct travel between Malaysia and Singapore within 90 minutes, domestic service in Malaysia and shuttle service from Iskandar Puteri (Johor) to Singapore. – Bernama / pic TMR File