Court quashes civil suit over Pakatan’s failure to act on Pulau Batu Puteh

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The Kuala Lumpur High Court has quashed a man’s suit against the government over the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh.

Judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz allowed the government’s bid to strike out Hatta Sanuri’s suit, ruling that he lacked legal standing to file the action.

The court also held that matters related to Pulau Batu Puteh are non-justiciable. It ordered Hatta to pay RM6,000 in cost.

Hatta, represented by lawyer Mohaji Selamat, will be appealing the court’s decision.

Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan appeared for the government.

Pulau Batu Puteh is a main rocky outcrop no more than half the size of a football field. It is located about 15km off Peninsular Malaysia’s southern coast.

According to a copy of the statement of claim, Hatta contended that he is suing on behalf of himself and 32 million other Malaysians.

According to him, all Malaysians were affected by the defendants’ unilateral act of withdrawal of the ICJ review application without first tabling and discussing it in Parliament.

The 46-year-old claimed that the government had not given an explanation for the withdrawal of the ICJ review application in light of alleged new evidence that favours Malaysia’s side in the bid for Pulau Batu Puteh’s sovereignty.

He sought a court declaration for the government to pay RM10 million compensation to Malaysians over the decision.

In 2008, the ICJ decided that Batu Puteh belonged to Singapore, Middle Rocks to Malaysia and South Ledge to the state in the territorial waters in which it is located.

In June 2017, Malaysia applied to the ICJ to request an interpretation of the judgment.

Last year, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had agreed to form a special task force to review the actions and legal issues regarding the three islands.

The task force, which is led by former attorney-general Apandi Ali, includes lawyers Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin and Abu Bakar As-Sidek Mohd Sidek, as well as representatives from Wisma Putra, Attorney-General’s Chambers, department of survey and mapping, and the Johor government.

It will submit its findings and recommendations to the Cabinet within six months.