6 years ago, in February 2017, a young’s woman’s nightmare in Johor Bahru began when she was involved in an accident. 22 years old then, Sam Ke Ting was driving home in the early hours of the morning when she unexpectedly encountered a group of cyclists riding along a hilly and winding road that was also said to have poor lighting. Her car crashed into the 8 teenage cyclists who died as a result of severe injuries.
Following the accident, which she pleaded not guilty to, there was a court case where she was acquitted. The prosecution appealed against the judgement and on this second occasion, she was again acquitted. The Johor Bahru Magistrate’s Court upheld its decision as the prosecution had failed to prove their case again and reasonable doubt arose, based on all the evidence presented earlier.
For some reason, the prosecution was still unwilling to accept the judgement – even on the second occasion – and she was dragged to the High Court after an appeal by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. This time, however, the judge took the view that the magistrate’s court had erred in accepting the arguments presented by the defence which led to her acquittal on both occasions.
On April 13, 2022, the High Court judge, Datuk Abu Bakar Katar, said he did not agree with the respondent’s defence of being unaware of ‘basikal lajak’ (modified bicycles) activity during the time of the incident. His view was that she should have been driving carefully because the area’s lighting was not bright at that time.
Sam was therefore found guilty and sentenced to 6 months in prison as well as having to pay a fine of RM6,000. She was also disqualified from driving for 3 years after completing her prison sentence. Initially, her request for a stay of execution was denied but the Court of Appeal granted it on April 18 last year, with bail set at RM10,000.
Today, Sam was able to walk free when the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision by the 3-judge panel, considered and allowed her appeal on the grounds that the charge (of driving recklessly and causing the deaths of 8 boys) was defective and the conviction was also incorrect.
The case attracted national attention, with many members of the public of the opinion that, though there was a fatal accident, she should not have been charged as it was possible that the boys were really the ones at fault. Some quarters also criticized the parents who claimed to be unaware or did not prevent their children from being out at 3 am in the morning. Lawyer Ng Kui Min suggested that the parents were negligent under Section 33 of the Child Act 2001 in such a situation.
Hopefully, this is the end of Sam’s long nightmare but she said that the accident and the loss of lives will haunt her for the rest of her life. Outside the court today, she expressed her apologies to the families of the deceased. Acknowledging that she was the one who was driving the car when the accident occurred, she said she did not intend for it to happen. “My words may not bring them back to you, but I would like to say that I, too, carry the burden of this tragedy,” Sam said.