10 August, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Renowned businessman Tan Sri Halim Saad has initiated legal proceedings against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two other individuals, citing financial losses incurred during the government’s acquisition of United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM) and Renong Bhd in 2001.

On August 2, Halim Saad, aged 69, lodged the lawsuit at the High Court through the law firm Messrs Malik Imtiaz Sarwar. The suit names Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 98, former finance II minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, 76, and the government as the first, second, and third defendants, respectively.

In the lawsuit, Halim Saad alleges that the government executed a compulsory acquisition via Khazanah Nasional Bhd, facilitated by its subsidiary Danasaham Sdn Bhd, leading to the takeover of UEM between July and October 2001. This action resulted in the devaluation of Halim Saad’s Renong shares.

At that time, Halim Saad claims Renong possessed 37.92% shares in UEM, and he held the position of the single-largest individual shareholder in Renong, granting him substantial control over the conglomerate.

Halim Saad asserts that he had intentions to conduct a general offer for UEM, either independently through Renong or collaboratively with Renong. The aim was to privatize UEM under Renong, thereby securing complete ownership and control over UEM.

However, he alleges that both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop directed him not to proceed with his plans. Instead, they indicated that the government intended to acquire all UEM shares via Khazanah or its nominated party.

This directive required Halim Saad to relinquish his influence over Renong and UEM, both as a shareholder and director, including subsidiaries. Consequently, he had to surrender control of Renong and UEM to the government and eventually dispose of his Renong shares at a substantial loss.

Halim Saad maintains that his Renong shares were his personal holdings and not affiliated with any political entity. He alleges that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop acted as representatives of the government, orchestrating the compulsory acquisition and his subsequent loss of control.

Adhering to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s authority as the prime minister and finance minister at the time, Halim Saad complied with these directives.

Furthermore, Halim Saad contends that the government’s actions breached Article 13 of the Federal Constitution by effecting the acquisition and deprivation without compensation. He also asserts that this failure to compensate contravenes Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, indicating a lack of equal protection before the law.

In his lawsuit, Halim Saad seeks a court order compelling the government to provide unspecified compensation or alternatively, to award general damages, interests, costs, and other relevant relief.

The case is scheduled for case management on September 13.