Melaka Gateway developer tells court: We need more time

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 23): The Melaka Gateway Project’s developer informed the High Court today that it has received a “positive” response from the transport ministry to its appeal over the cancellation of the project, but is seeking further clarification on the matter.

KAJ Development Sdn Bhd is seeking to verify if the ministry is allowing the appeal or is asking the company to make an appearance with the ministry, said the company’s lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

“We have received a reply from the ministry on Tuesday, which seems positive but we need further clarification on the letter issued by the [ministry’s] secretary-general. Hence, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan has asked for a week to clarify on the response,” the lawyer said.

Justice Datuk Nordin Hassan fixed May 30 for further case management.

On April 24, the court had given the ministry and its minister Anthony Loke, a month to reply to KAJ Development's appeal after the company said the ministry had sought time to consider the appeal.

The project, which was approved by the previous government Barisan Nasional just before the 14th general election last year, was later scrapped by the new administration.

It was reported that KAJ Development was informed of the project’s cancellation via a letter dated Oct 5 last year. It was told that the “port operating licence for the integrated deep-sea Melaka Gateway and cruise terminal jetty” had been cancelled.

KAJ Development appealed the decision via a letter to Loke on Nov 14, but said it did not initially receive any reply, prompting the company to file a judicial review application against the government, Loke and the Melaka Port Authority.

The developer claims it has submitted its application since January 2014 to operate Melaka Gateway, which it says would bring tourists and develop the maritime industry and hence, bring economic contributions to the country.

The project had also attracted interests of three China-based companies and the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, KAJ Development said.

For this reason, KAJ Development is seeking leave for the full merits of the application to be heard.

It is also seeking a declaration that Loke’s decision to reject the appeal in cancelling the licence by not replying to the appeal letter by Dec 15, was not in accordance with the law or against his statutory duty, and hence the decision (to cancel the licence) was null and void and was not enforceable.

KAJ Development is also seeking a certiorari order to quash the cancellation of the operating licence. Alternatively, it is seeking a mandamus order to compel Loke to give a response to the appeal within 14 days of the court order.

Alternatively, KAJ Development is seeking general damages to be assessed by the court, and special damages of RM139 billion.