(Updated)

No jail for Sam Ke Ting for now, reckless driving appeal to be heard in COA

No jail for Sam Ke Ting for now, reckless driving appeal to be heard in COA
-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (April 18): The Court of Appeal (COA) has allowed the leave application to hear the reckless driving case of Sam Ke Ting, and granted a stay of execution of her sentence including jail time and a fine.

Sam, who was sentenced to six years jail by the Johor Baru High Court, was granted bail of RM10,000 — similar to her bail by the Magistrate Court — by the three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk P Ravinthran, Justice Datuk Lee Heng Cheong and Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. 

Lawyer Muhammad Faizal Mokhtar, who represented Sam, will file the notice of appeal with the Johor Baru High Court within 14 days. 

Sam, 27, was given the jail sentence together with a RM6,000 fine and a three-year driving ban by the High Court for reckless driving in the wee hours in Johor Baru five years ago in 2017, which resulted in the death of eight teenagers playing "basikal lajak" or downhill cycling. 

She had previously been acquitted twice in the Magistrate Court in 2019 and 2021 as the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case and to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt respectively. 

To be sure, a leave needs to be applied for a case from the Magistrate Court to be appealed in the Court of Appeal.

In making the decision on Monday (April 18), the appellate court bench allowed six questions of law raised by the defence, including whether the offence under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987, specifically the "cause of a dangerous situation", was due to the driver or the cyclists, and whether the speed of the driver at 44.5km/h is deemed dangerous compared to the position of the cyclists on the road. 

Earlier, the prosecution told the court that it had no objection to the application for the stay of execution and the leave application. 

Representing the prosecution is Attorney-General’s Chambers appellate and trial division head Manoj Kurup, who had requested bail of RM20,000. The court, however, allowed the RM10,000 request by the defence on the grounds that she had never missed a hearing previously.

Meanwhile, the appellate court also allowed an application by the Bar Council, represented by Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal, to be "amicus curiae" or a "friend of the court" in the trial.

An amicus curiae is an individual or organization who is not a party to a legal case, but permitted to assist the court – only if given a leave to do so – by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.

No role for Shafee

However, the court dismissed a similar application by the University of Malaya Faculty of Law Alumni Association (Parfum) represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is also Parfum's vice-president, and another application by lawyers who represented MCA, namely Ng Kian Nam, Heng Zhi Li and Ho Kuok Zeng. Shafee previously told the press of his offer to represent Sam on a pro bono basis. 

At a press conference later, Faizal said that Sam gave out a message that she is “a law-abiding citizen and adheres to the decision of the court”. 

“She expressed her disappointment when certain parties questioned the judiciary system when she lost the case [at the High Court level]. 

“For her, this case is not racial but a public interest matter with two equally important issues, namely the value of life which collides with the freedom of an individual before being found guilty,” Faizal said. “Whoever wins, the [outcome] will be [for] Malaysians.”

Surin Murugiah