PUTRAJAYA, Nov 15 — Mohd Hatta Sanuri has failed in his bid to reinstate his suit in connection with the withdrawal of a review application over the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision on the Pulau Batu Puteh claim.

A three-man bench of the Court of Appeal led by Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, unanimously dismissed an appeal by Mohd Hatta after finding that the appellant had no locus standi to bring the legal action against the prime minister and the government as the respondents.

“The claim is clearly an abuse of the court process and the respondents have met the threshold of Order 18, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court 2012 (striking out application), that the subject matter of Mohd Hatta’s claim is non-justiciable. Therefore, we dismiss the appellant’s appeal with costs of RM10,000,” she said.

Justice Hadhariah, who sat with Justices Datuk See Mee Chun and Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, also dismissed Mohd Hatta’s appeal against a High Court decision on January 30 last year to allow the application by the prime minister and government of Malaysia for a protection order for the documents.

Advertisement

“We find no merit in the appeal. We agree with the respondents that the documents are sensitive in nature, which involve the diplomatic and bilateral relationship between the Government of Malaysia and Government of Singapore. We dismiss the appeal with costs of RM5,000,” she said when delivering today’s decision via online proceeding.

On July 1 last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur struck out Mohd Hatta’s suit after allowing an application by the prime minister and the government.

High Court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz held that the subject matter was non-justiciable and Mohd Hatta also did not have locus standi (legal standing) to bring the legal action against the prime minister and the government.

Advertisement

In 2018, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under the leadership of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad withdrew an application to overturn ICJ’s ruling on 23 May 2008 awarding legal jurisdiction of Pulau Batu Puteh (known as Pedra Branca by Singapore) to Singapore even before the hearing of the case, which was scheduled on June 11, 2018.

On May 28, 2021, Mohd Hatta filed the suit on his behalf and on behalf of the more than 32 million Malaysians allegedly affected by the withdrawal of the review application, which was made without discussing and tabling it first in Parliament.

In his statement of claim, Mohd Hatta sought an order for the government to provide a written explanation on why they had withdrawn from the review of the ICJ’s decision on June 1, 2018, when a review application with strong evidence had been initiated and filed since Feb 3, 2017.

He also sought a declaration for the prime minister and the government to pay compensation to each Malaysian based on the land value of Pulau Batu Puteh and based on the economic losses suffered by all Malaysians including him (Mohd Hatta) equally, amounting to at least RM10 million each.

An order was also sought for both the prime minister and the government to disclose in detail the total cost incurred by the second defendant (government) for the preparation of the ICJ decision review application on February 3, 2017, until they abruptly withdrew the application on June 1, 2018.

Earlier, lawyer Mohaji Selamat, representing Hatta, had submitted that the appellant had locus standi to file legal action regarding the Pulau Batu Puteh issue because it involved national sovereignty.

According to him, the action of withdrawing the review application resulted in loss not only to the appellant but to 32 million Malaysians.

“A lot of money was spent to start this review (application) at the ICJ, but the sudden withdrawal of the review two weeks before the hearing caused losses to the people of this country,” he said.

He further submitted that the legal action filed by his client was not based on speculation following the Attorney General’s Chambers in a previous statement stating that the government thought the withdrawal of the review application was irregular and improper.

“Therefore, this case should have been heard through a full trial instead of being overturned by the court. I request that the appellant’s appeal be allowed,” said the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Senior Federal Counsel (SFC) Liew Horng Bin, representing the respondents, submitted that the appellant does not have the locus standi to commence a legal action.

“What right does the appellant have as a citizen to commence this case? If he fails to identify his right, we submit that the appellant does not have locus standi,” he said, adding that the appellant’s claim is an abuse of the court process.

Liew, who was assisted by SFC Shamsul Bolhassan, further submitted that the respondents’ decision to withdraw the ICJ review was made after considering legal advice rendered by foreign legal experts appointed by the government. — Bernama