Asia Malaysia A bicycle incident in 2017 and the case of an abused child...

A bicycle incident in 2017 and the case of an abused child has gripped Malaysia

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Malaysians are engaged on social media, commenting, reposting, or discussing two court cases that have engulfed the country.

First, there was a bicycle accident in 2017 that reappeared in Malaysia when the prosecution won an appeal that resulted in the accused, a 27-year-old woman, receiving a six-year prison sentence and RM6000 in fines. This got the internet flooded with comments.

The situation also prompted ex-PM Najib Razak to weigh in, refuting suggestions that he is being treated differently than Sam Ke Ting, the teenager who accidentally knocked numerous children down in the middle of a road in Johor in the middle of the night.

Eight teens died in the accident that took place at 3.30 am in the morning and eight others were injured.

The Johor Bahru Magistrate’s Court affirmed its judgement to acquit a woman accused of reckless driving that resulted in the deaths of eight youths in October 2021.

According to Bernama, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali ruled on 10 October, that the prosecution had failed to establish its case against 26-year-old Sam Ke Ting beyond a reasonable doubt.

Siti Hajar also considered the reasonable evidence of the accused, who told the court that she had no knowledge of the riding activities on modified bicycles — called colloquially as ‘basikal lajak’ — in the region. She stated that there was no notice about such acitivities.

“After examining all the evidence presented and considering the submissions of the deputy public prosecutor and the accused’s counsel at the end of the defence case, reasonable doubt arose,” she said.

“Hence, it has been decided that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged at the end of the defence case.”

That was in 2021. But what happened in 2022?

Sam was 22 at the time of the accident. She was also driving on the far left lane at the accident scene on Jalan Lingkaran Dalam in Johor Bahru around 3.30 a.m. on 18 February 2017.

The accused’s statement corroborated with a research undertaken by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS), which discovered that the accused was driving at 44.5km/h or 75.8km/h which was said to be well within the speed limit.

The scene of the accident in 2017

Overturned

On Wednesday last week, the High Court sentenced the female clerk to six years in prison after finding her guilty of reckless driving that resulted in the deaths of the eight adolescent cyclists.

She was also barred from driving for three years and sentenced to six months in jail if she did not pay the fee.

In his decision, the judge stated that the defence had failed to raise any reasonable doubts about the prosecution’s case, which had clearly demonstrated the substance of the offence.

It is not only the netizens who commented on Sam’s reversal of fortune.

Najib Razak has accused the opposition of attempting to “racialize” the punishment.

On April 13th, the former PM wrote on Facebook, “Adoi! Sam Ke Ting denied bail is also Najib’s fault?”

Najib accused DAP and PH of inciting the public against him after Sam was denied a stay of execution and was promptly taken to prison, while he is able to walk freely despite his corruption conviction.

On top of that, while netizens are squabbling on whether she should go to jail or not, dividing the people on a case that is dragging for a long time, news websites are carrying various comments on the case.

A columnist, Joe Samad, wrote a missive in which he questions the society and the reasons why the jailing of Ms Sam Ke Ting was not expected. He commented, “We can’t heap the blame on just one person in the decadent society we created.”

15 lawyers for defence

In another viral case, the abuse of a young teen of 13 at an orphanage has sparked riot on local social media platforms.

The case of Siti Bainun, 30, who is accused of neglecting and abusing the youngster, Bella between February and June 2021, causing bodily and mental harm to the victim is now getting a lot more attention.

Rumah Bonda was founded by Siti Bainun who is charged for subjecting the 13-year-old girl to slave-like abuse.

She started loathing Bella, a youngster with Down syndrome, after she unintentionally displaced a drape from its holder.

According to a witness, Yasmin Nahar, Siti grew enraged after the event and began assaulting Bella. Bella was subjected to horrific penalties from that day forward.

Last week, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court got a description of what a teenage girl with down syndrome, known as Bella, was fed during the fasting month by Rumah Bonda founder, Siti Bainun Ahd Razali.

Yasmin Nahar Mahmood, 18, a resident of Rumah Bonda, said Bella was told by Siti Bainun to finish the rice even though the teenager was full because Bella had secretly eaten and drank during Siti Bainun’s absence at the welfare home.

Bella was fed a pot of rice poured with vinegar, turmeric, salt, soy sauce, chilli and chilli pieces as well as rotten fried chicken during the fasting month.

Yasmin said Siti Bainun also fed Bella 20 chillies and asked the witness or another resident of Rumah Bonda, known as Aida to count the 20 chillies. Siti Bainun is accused of allegedly neglecting and abusing the girl.

Crown Prince

An innocent photograph posted online showing a dozen of lawyers who have taken up the case in favour of Siti Bainun went viral.

The picture was criticised online by netizens who were saying the orphanage owner can afford such a huge team of lawyers while Bella is fighting on her own!

But things changed dramatically when during the weekend, the Crown Prince of Johor showed support for the hashtag #justiceforbella.

Now, the lone child has the support of a powerful figure in Malaysia. And all of a sudden, the lawyer team of Siti Bainun are defending themselves online but netizens are dismissing them as people who only work for money and who defends the guilty.

Which in turn, got the lawyer fraternity in the country upset, because they say, not all lawyers are defending the guilty and the innocents too need the help of lawyers to win cases.

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