By Free Malaysia Today
Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd’s RM13.5 billion suit against former Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and the state government will go to trial – four years after the action was filed.
This follows today’s Federal Court ruling dismissing Khalid and the Selangor government’s application for leave to appeal a Court of Appeal decision made four months ago.
On Feb 11, the appellate court had allowed Puncak Niaga’s appeal to set aside a High Court ruling allowing Khalid and the state government to strike out the suit.
Today, Federal Court Judge Vernon Ong Lam Kiat said the striking-out application was an interlocutory application and that a full trial was never held, and therefore the question of whether the suit was time-barred had not been decided by the High Court.
He also acknowledged that the leave questions that were posed were of general importance.
“Since the High Court has not made a ruling, the threshold of section 96 (on granting leave) under the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 has not been met.
“The leave questions are a mixture of facts and law and need to be properly ventilated during trial,” he said.
Khalid and the state were ordered to pay RM30,000 in costs to Puncak Niaga.
Edmund Bon, who represented Khalid, earlier submitted that the suit was time-barred as his client left office on Sept 23, 2014 while the suit was filed on Oct 27, 2017.
Under the Public Authorities of Protection Act 1948, a claim against the government needs to be filed within three years.
Counsel Gopal Sreenevasan, who appeared for Puncak Niaga, conceded that Khalid vacated his office in 2013 but pointed out that the sale and purchase agreement was completed on Oct 10, 2015.
He said the three-year limitation came into effect in October 2018.
In the suit filed in 2017, Puncak Niaga claimed that Khalid and his successor, Mohamed Azmin Ali, abused their powers by threatening to cause the federal government to invoke the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to force the takeover of the water services industry in Selangor.
The company is seeking damages, interest and costs over the loss of business opportunities in the country and abroad, totalling RM13.5 billion.