Ministry gets a month to decide on Gateway developer’s appeal

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 25, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court yesterday gave the transport ministry and its minister, Anthony Loke, a month to decide on the appeal by the developer of the Melaka Gateway project following the cancellation of the development licence.

Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla, the lawyer for developer KAJ Development Sdn Bhd, said that he received a letter from the ministry on Tuesday informing that it would need time to decide on the appeal as it had asked for six months.

“Today we met Justice Nordin Hassan in his chambers where we indicated that we would like to have the decision made before Hari Raya which falls in June.

“Following that, the court agreed and fixed May 23 for the ministry and Loke to come back to court to inform a decision on the appeal by the company,” Haniff told yesterday.

Yesterday was fixed case management for KAJ Development’s judicial review application against the government, Loke and the Malacca Port Authority (MPA) to obtain leave from the court to get a certiorari order to quash the cancellation.

Senior federal counsel Maisarah Jauhari appeared for Loke and the government while lawyer J Doshi appeared for MPA.

The Melaka Gateway is an integrated deep-sea port project which had been given approval by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

It was reported last month that KAJ Development received a letter dated Oct 5 last year, informing the firm that the “port operating licence for integrated deep-sea Melaka Gateway and cruise terminal jetty” had been cancelled.

The company appealed the decision via a letter to Loke on Nov 14, but did not receive any reply.

Hence, it is seeking a review of Loke’s decision as the previous government initially approved the licence for the project in March 2018, shortly before the 14th general election.

KAJ Development claims it had 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 the interests of three China-based companies and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, it 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.