PUTRAJAYA, March 8 — The Court of Appeal today postponed hearing of an appeal by Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd to reinstate its RM13.5 billion lawsuit against two former Selangor mentri besar and the Selangor government over the restructuring of the state water industry.
Justice Datuk Badariah Sahamid, who led a three-man panel, adjourned the hearing to await a decision on whether a prime minister is a public officer in two cases pending at the Federal Court.
The two cases pending hearing at the Federal Court are that on Damansara Member of Parliament Tony Pua Kiam Wee’s appeal and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Batu Kawan Umno vice-chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s review application which are scheduled for hearing on April 23.
“There are two pending Federal Court decision on specific issues before us,” she said when adjourning the Puncak Niaga’s appeal hearing.
Justice Badariah then set April 30 for case management of Puncak Niaga’s appeal for parties to update the court on the status of the pending cases before the Federal Court.
The other two judges who presided on the panel were Justice Datuk Yew Jen Kie and Datuk Has Zanah Mehat.
Puncak Niaga is appealing against a Shah Alam High Court decision on February 22 last year to strike out its lawsuit against former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and the Selangor government.
Abdul Khalid’s lawyer, Edmund Bon Tai Soon, and Selangor legal adviser Datuk Masri Daud, appearing for the Selangor government, requested for the appeal to be postponed to wait for the Federal Court ‘s decision on the matter.
Puncak Niaga’s counsel, Gopal Sreenevasan, however, urged the court to proceed with the appeal saying the issues before the court today was different from the two Federal Court cases.
He said the court had decided that under the Federal Constitution, the Prime Minister and Cabinet members are not public officers, while it is the Selangor Constitution that would determine the status of the former mentri besar.
In the lawsuit filed in 2017, Puncak Niaga claimed that Abdul Khalid and Mohamed Azmin had abused their power 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 claimed for damages, interest and costs over loss of business opportunities in the country and abroad, totalling RM13.5 billion.
In the High Court, Abdul Khalid and the Selangor government applied to the court to strike out Puncak Niaga’s lawsuit.
In his striking out application, Abdul Khalid said Puncak Niaga’s action against him was an allegation of misfeasance in public office and he said he was not a public official under relevant laws such as the Government Proceedings Act 1956, Interpretation Act 1948 & 1967, Selangor State Constitution 1959 and the Federal Constitution.
For the Federal Court cases, Dr Mahathir, Khairuddin and Pua have filed tort of misfeasance lawsuits against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya appeared for Mohamed Azmin, who is now minister of economic affairs. — Bernama