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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Welcome to new Malaysia where law, not race prevails – Ambiga schools Zahid



Former Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has schooled Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on how a proper legal process should work following his remarks on the acquittal of a driver over an accident which killed eight teenage cyclists two years ago.
“I will say to Zahid: Welcome to Malaysia where the rule of law prevails, not race.
“Where the facts and the law matter, not who you are. Where justice is served though 'the heavens may fall',” she told Malaysiakini this evening.
Ambiga said this concept, which was alien to the previous government of which the former deputy prime minister was part of, is what would make new Malaysia strong.

At a ceramah in Tanjung Piai, Johor, last night, Zahid had cast aspersions on magistrate Siti Hajar Ali's decision to free Sam Ke Ting, 24, of a reckless driving charge.
Although the Umno president did not mention race, his remarks came in the wake of the criticism on social media regarding the ruling, which focused on the driver's race.
Defending the magistrate, Ambiga said Siti Hajar possessed the courage to act according to the facts and law as she saw them, uninfluenced by race emotion or fear.
“The disease of expecting judgments to be handed down on the basis of race must not be allowed to take root.
“The prosecution may appeal if they wish and the legal process will again take its course in the appellate courts. This is how an independent judiciary and justice system works.
“This is not to say for one minute that the public does not sympathise with the families of those who died. But the law, which does not discriminate on racial grounds, must be allowed to take its course,” she added.
Any other system, Ambiga warned, would lead to anarchy.
She said that the world is watching the manner in which the nation and its institutions are being built.
“Strengthening the rule of law will build confidence in the country and attract investment. Only if we are a country of laws, will we progress.
“Politicians who fail to understand this, do the country and our justice system a terrible disservice,” she added.
On Oct 28, the Johor Bahru Magistrate's Court freed the driver without calling her to the stand after finding that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case.
In her judgment, Siti Hajar said the court took into consideration several factors, namely that it was a dark, hilly and winding road where the driver - who was not local to the area - could not foresee that there would be a group of cyclists on the road at three o'clock in the morning.
The magistrate added that the cyclists had put themselves in danger.
Siti Hajar said investigations found that Sam was not under the influence of alcohol, was not using her phone and wore a seatbelt while driving, proving that the accused was driving responsibly and carefully. - Mkini

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