KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — More than 250,000 signatures have been collected in less than 24 hours on two separate online petitions seeking either the release of or justice for Sam Ke Ting, the woman who was yesterday sentenced to six years’ jail over the 2017 deaths of eight teenagers riding their “basikal lajak” or modified bicycles in Johor.
The High Court in Johor Baru had yesterday reversed the previous acquittal of Sam over a reckless driving charge over her crashing into the eight teenagers at 3.20am in 2017, sentencing her to imprisonment without allowing bail and also to a RM6,000 fine and three-year driving ban upon completion of her prison term.
The High Court decision came after the Magistrate’s Court in Johor Baru in October 2019 acquitted Sam without calling for her to enter defence as the court found that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case and after the same Magistrate’s Court in October 2021 again acquitted Sam as it found the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
At the time of writing, four online petitions were found on the website Change.org to highlight Sam’s plight, with all having been launched only yesterday.
The first petition that was started yesterday afternoon was titled “Bebaskan Sam Ke Ting daripada pertuduhan memandu secara melulu #FreeSamKeTing” (Free Sam Ke Ting from the reckless driving charge), and was launched by a Change.org user by the name of Wan Junaida.
In seeking for Sam’s release, the petition pointed out the magistrate had in her 2019 judgment noted that “Sam was not under the influence of alcohol, was not using her phone and had her seatbelt on while driving, proving that she was driving responsibly and carefully, but it was a dark, hilly and winding road where the driver could not foresee that there would be a bicycle gang on the road at 3am in the morning.”
“We Malaysians are horrified by the new sentence of Sam, where facts supported that she was a responsible driver, the real victim in this accident. It was the failed parenthood of the parents of the future mat rempit that allowed their children to roam in the street with modified bicycles, or ‘basikal lajak’ at 3am.
“We do not accept this judgment, and seek to have her sentence overturned, so not to rob the bright future of a young, innocent Malaysian citizen,” the petition said.
This petition has collected more than 250,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The second earliest petition bearing the title “Justice for Sam Ke Ting 沈可婷”, with her name in Chinese characters, was started yesterday by Muhammad Affin and addressed to “High Court Judge of Johor Baru (Criminal) (OFFICE OF THE CHIEF REGISTRAR)”.
Also having collected more than 250,000 signatures at the time of writing, this separate petition said justice had to be upheld no matter how painful it is, noting that the accident occurred at 3am with teenagers on the road on modified bicycles that were not allowed, and that Sam was said to have complied with the speed limit during the incident.
Questioning why the government had appealed to the High Court even though Sam had twice been acquitted previously, the online petition also said that the deaths of the teenage victims did not mean that others could be victimised.
“We feel very sad on the fatal accident, and whatever it is, the lives that have been lost cannot be brought back. The family members of the victims will bear this huge loss for their entire lives. But, this does not mean we can victimise others,” the petition said as it urged for justice for Sam.
The two other petitions that were started subsequently had collected numbers below 1,000 at the time of writing.
Yesterday, both the DAP and MCA offered to provide legal aid to Sam.
MCA legal affairs bureau chairman Datuk Tay Puay Chuan said the party would offer legal assistance including helping with Sam’s appeal to ensure she receives a fair trial, noting that she had twice been acquitted by the Magistrate’s Court before the High Court convicted and sentenced her to jail without bail yesterday.
Tay said Sam had proven at both the Magistrate’s Courts that she did not drive recklessly and had followed traffic laws, adding: “We believe the law is fair and will undertake every effort to assist her in her appeal.”
DAP national legal bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh said the bureau was prepared to “provide legal assistance to Sam and her legal team in the filing and hearing of the application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal”.
Sam’s case which started out at the Magistrate’s Court before it was appealed to the High Court, cannot be further taken up to the Court of Appeal unless Sam obtains leave to appeal or in other words seek the Court of Appeal’s permission for her appeal to be heard, Ramkarpal had explained.
With the Magistrate’s Court having twice acquitted Sam — first at the end of the prosecution’s case and with the second acquittal at the end of the defence case, Ramkarpal said this suggests that there are doubts on whether she committed the offence and said she should file an application for leave to appeal urgently as she had been found not guilty previously.
“I am further of the view that Sam can apply for a stay of execution of her sentence in the event leave is allowed by the Court of Appeal and be released on bail pending her said appeal,” he had also said.