PETALING JAYA: A DAP MP has slamed Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for his remarks on the recent acquittal of a woman on a reckless driving charge that caused the death of eight teenage cyclists in Johor Baru in 2017.
Ramkarpal Singh said the Umno president should be charged with contempt of court as the comments suggested that the government was involved and the magistrate Siti Hajar Ali's ruling was not impartial.
“The said statement clearly undermines public confidence in the judiciary, and ridicules, scandalises and offends the dignity, integrity, and impartiality of the court.
“This is a serious allegation and goes beyond fair criticism of the decision of the said magistrate, as such criticism can cause the public to feel that she was biased and had taken into consideration matters which ought not to have been when deciding the matter, ” Ramkarpal said in a statement on Thursday (Nov 7).
The Bukit Gelugor MP noted that when lawyer Arunachalam Kasi, also known as Arun Kasi, was imprisoned and fined by the Federal Court for contempt of court for unfairly criticising its decision, it had sparked a debate on the limits of criticism of court judgments.
“With respect, Zahid’s statement is equally, if not more serious, and ought not to escape the long arm of the law. If Arun was cited for contempt, there is no reason why Zahid should not, ” he added.
Ahmad Zahid had reportedly made the comments during a ceramah in Tanjung Piai on Wednesday (Nov 6).
"When eight children riding their bicycles in Johor were hit by a woman (driver), that woman was released as though there was no evidence.
"Those children have died, they have become arwah (the deceased)," he said.
This statement prompted a member of the audience to shout that the woman should be hanged.
Although Zahid did not mention the woman's race, criticism of the court ruling has been focused on her ethnicity.
Sales promoter Sam Ke Ting, 24, was acquitted and discharged without being called to the stand after the Johor Baru Magistrate's Court found that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case.
In her judgment, Siti Hajar had 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 3am.
The magistrate had added that the cyclists had put themselves in danger.
Siti Hajar further 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.