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Two former Malaysia prime ministers to file defence in High-Speed Rail project lawsuit

Two former Malaysia prime ministers to file defence in High-Speed Rail project lawsuit

Former Malaysian prime ministers Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (Photo: Bernama, Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime ministers Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, as well as three other defendants, have been asked to file their defence against a lawsuit over the cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project

According to local media, the High Court issued the orders during the case management of the lawsuit on Thursday (Feb 2) and the parties involved are to file their defence statements, the latest by Feb 28.  

Apart from the two former prime ministers, three other defendants expected to file their defence are former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed, former transport minister Wee Ka Siong and the Malaysian government, Bernama reported.  

The High Court also directed the plaintiff, Mohd Hatta Sanuri, to file any reply he may have to those defence statements before Mar 28 and the next case management has been set for Mar 30. 

On Tuesday, Mr Mohd Hatta filed a lawsuit against the defendants for alleged abuse of public office and negligence in the cancellation of the HSR project. 

He claimed that Dr Mahathir and Mr Muhyiddin had both committed tort misfeasance in public office for their roles in the postponement and termination of the HSR project respectively, causing the Malaysian government and people to pay millions of ringgit in compensation to the Singapore Government. 

A compensation of almost RM46 million (S$14.2 million) was made to Singapore after Dr Mahathir postponed the project. Malaysia paid another RM320.3 million as compensation when Mr Muhyiddin cancelled the bilateral agreement on the HSR between the two countries. 

Mr Mohd Hatta also claimed that Mr Mustapa, who was responsible for managing the project, had committed a similar offence by shelving the project, while Dr Wee committed tort misfeasance in public office for denying Malaysians their right to enjoy a first-class transport system.

The 47-year-old is seeking a court order to declare the cancellation of the project null and void, as well as for all the defendants to pay RM1 million compensation to him and all Malaysians for wrongfully and negligently cancelling the HSR project.

Mohd Hatta is a member of the Kuala Selangor Municipal Council. He is also a member of Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), a component party of the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

When contacted by CNA, he said that he filed the suit in his capacity as an individual and not as a member of Amanah.

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 expiry of the project agreement on Dec 31, 2020.

Accordingly, Malaysia paid S$102.8 million in compensation to Singapore for costs incurred for the development of the HSR project.

The 350km HSR would have shortened the travelling time from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to 90 minutes by train, from the current 11 hours on existing train services.

Source: Bernama/ya(ih)

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