KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 – The Government of Malaysia and three others have filed an application to strike out a suit brought by five members of a family seeking compensation over the deaths of three kin who were passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that disappeared on March 8 last year.
This was disclosed by lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo to reporters after case management before Judicial Commissioner Datuk Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab in the High Court chambers Monday. Sangeet Kaur represented two children of a couple who were killed in the incident. She said the court had set Jan 28 for case management. Federal counsel Shaiful Nizam Shahrin, who represented the Government of Malaysia, also attended the proceedings in chambers here on Monday.
The four defendants in the suit, the Government of Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general and commander of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). Meanwhile, it also had filed the application on Dec 23 to strike out the suit. They had applied to have the suit struck out on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ claim was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.
MAB, as the second defendant, said the MAB was only corporatised on Nov 7, 2014, that is eight months after the MH370 incident and was not a successor company to Malaysia Airlines System Berhad (MAS), which also named as the first defendant in the suit. In the meantime, it also said in the application that the MAS (Administration) Act 2015 (Act 765) does not ‘ipso facto’ place or transfer the liability of the first defendant (MAS) to the second defendant (MAB).
On Aug 28, five members of a family failed the suit against the five defendants seeking compensation over the disappearance of Tan Ah Meng, 46, and his wife Chuang Hsiu Ling alias Cindy Chuang, 45, who were directors of an engineering company and a construction company, respectively, as well as their eldest son, Tan Wei Chew, 19.
The suit was filed by the couple’s two other children – Tan Wei Hong, 15, and Tan Wei Jie, 13 – Ah Meng’s parents Tan Hun Khong, 84, and Lai Chew Lai, 82, and Hsiu Ling’s mother Chuang Hung Chien, 75 , a Taiwanese citizen. In the statement of claim, the plaintiffs alleged that Malaysia Airline System Berhad had breached contract by failing to make sure the plane was in good condition, thus causing Flight MH370 and its passengers to go missing.
They claimed that due to the negligence of the defendants, the remaining two children of the couple were orphaned and had lost their elder brother, besides causing them hurt and loss, including financial support and affection. They also claimed that when the flight lost contact, DCA failed to take appropriate action within reasonable time to re-establish a connection or launch a search for the plane.
The plaintiffs also claimed that the loss of the aircraft could have been avoided if the RMAF commander had monitored the radar in real time and taken the relevant action when the incident occurred. They sought the defendants to file a public apology to the plaintiffs, as well as general damages, compensation for loss of support, aggravated and exemplary damages, costs, interest and other relief deemed fit by the court.
On Jan 29, DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, representing the Malaysian Government announced that MH370 was declared an accident under international aviation regulations, and all 239 passengers and crew on board the flight were presumed dead.
The Boeing 777 aircraft took off from the KL International Airport at 12.40am on March 8, 2014, and headed towards Beijing. An hour later, the plane disappeared from the radar and was believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. On July 29, 2015, a wing component known as the ‘flaperon’ was discovered on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. The search continues for the aircraft.