M'sian man, 47, sues former PMs Mahathir & Muhyiddin over high-speed rail cancellation

The HSR project was suspended in September 2018, before being cancelled in December 2020.

Andrew Koay | January 31, 2023, 06:55 PM

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A lawsuit has been filed against former Malaysian prime ministers Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin in relation to the abandoned high speed-rail (HSR) project that would have connected Singapore and Malaysia.

The plaintiff? A 47-year-old Malaysian man named Mohd Hatta Sanuri, whom the Malay Mail reported has taken previous legal grievances up against his government.

Former prime ministers accused of malfeasance

Among his complaints this time round, Mohd Hatta is arguing that the former prime ministers had committed malfeasance when under their watch, the HSR was postponed and subsequently cancelled.

During his second stint in the top job, on Sep. 5, 2018, Mahathir ordered the HSR project to be suspended, resulting in the Malaysian government having to pay RM46 million — at the time S$15 million — in compensation to Singapore.

When Muhyiddin was the prime minister, he terminated the project on Dec. 31, 2020, after Singapore and Malaysia failed to reach an agreement on changes proposed by the latter.

By then, Singapore had spent S$270 million on the project, and Malaysia was required to pay S$102 million as compensation.

RM1 million for all Malaysians

Two former ministers — Mustapa Mohamed, previously the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy), and ex-transport minister Wee Ka Siong — as well as the Malaysian government, were named as the other defendants in the lawsuit by Mohd Hatta, according to CNA.

Malay Mail reported that Mohd Hatta's statement of claim read that the project's termination resulted in losses for Malaysians including foreign investors losing confidence in the country; the loss of 70,000 high-paying jobs; a missed opportunity to gain RM70 billion (S$21.55 billion) in profit from the construction and operation of the project.

As a result, he is asking for all the defendants to pay RM1 million (S$307,790) to every single Malaysian citizen for the wrongful and negligent handling of the HSR project.

Previous lawsuit against the government

CNA reported that Mohd Hatta is a member of the Kuala Selangor Municipal Council and a party member of Amanah, which is part of Anwar Ibrahim's Pakatan Harapan coalition.

He told CNA that he had filed the suit in his capacity as an individual, rather than as a member of a political party.

According to Malay Mail, his previous legal tussle with the government was in 2021, when Malaysia withdrew its application to review the International Court of Justice's decision on Pedra Branca, which it had ruled in favour of Singapore.

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