Chamber files RM475m suit against Johor

(The Star) – The Johor Malay Chamber of Commerce has filed a RM475mil suit against the Johor Mentri Besar and two other government agencies for rescinding a land deal.

The case, which was filed in 2005, came up for first hearing yesterday at a High Court here.

The defendants named in the suit included the Mentri Besar, Land and Mines Department director and the state Economic Planning Unit.

In the statement of claim, the chamber said the Johor Economic Planning Unit had granted it exclusive rights to develop a 26.46ha piece of land in Pantai Lido in December 1993.

Lawyer P.K. Nathan, who is acting for the plaintiff, claimed that the chamber had spent RM631,303 in professional fees to architects, planners and engineers.

The claim also alleged that the defendants, through the Johor State Assembly on Nov 3, 1999, approved the development of the same plot of land by a company, Optima Bestari Sdn Bhd, cancelling without consultation or notice the exclusive rights granted to the chamber.

Nathan said that due to the breach of exclusivity rights by the defendants, the chamber had suffered losses and damages, and was now asking the defendants to deliver to it the said land or alternatively pay profits amounting to RM475mil.

The plaintiff is also claiming general damages against the defendants, the amount of RM631,303 spent on professional fees, costs, and other reliefs.

Nathan also asked High Court judicial commissioner Datuk Hew Siew Kheng to rule on the liability of the defendants and allow the senior assistant registrar to decide on damages to speed up the process.

Assistant state legal adviser Jailani Abdul Rahman, representing the defendants, argued that the plaintiff’s claim was barred by a time-limitation clause and there was no special agreement between the plaintiff and defendants.

Jailani also asked the court to postpone the case to allow him time to peruse documents submitted by the plaintiff before he could cross-examine the plaintiff’s witness, chamber president Syed Ali Alattas, who gave his statement yesterday.

Hew adjourned the case to June 17 and 19.