If you’ve been seeing the name “Sam Ke Ting” floating around social media as of late, yet have no idea what anything regarding this person is about, you’ve come to the right place.
And if you have no idea who Sam Ke Ting, a Malaysian who is currently 27 years old, is, you’ve come to the right place too.
But before we start, here’s what you need to know.
Sam Ke Ting Case
On 18 February 2017, Sam was driving in the wee hours of around 3.20am when she knocked into a group of over 30 teenagers who were cycling.
The accident caused the death of eight teenagers, and another eight suffered injuries.
The unfortunate incident happened near Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, and the eight who succumbed to their injuries were between the ages of 13 and 16 at that time.
She is currently charged with one count of reckless or dangerous driving resulting in death, and is facing a jail term of six years, as well as a fine of RM 6,000 (approximately S$1,934). If she does not pay the fine, she will be sentenced to another six months in jail.
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In addition to that, Sam will also have her driving licence revoked for three years after her release. According to her lawyer, they will be filing an appeal against the charge.
For committing an offence under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333), a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of RM20,000 upon conviction may be imposed.
However, even though it may seem like Sam is to blame for her reckless driving, Malaysians have been supporting Sam and demanding for the teenagers’ parents to take responsibility instead. Here’s why.
Teenagers Were Riding “Basikal Lajak”, AKA Downhill Cycling
But before you dismiss the bicycle-riding teenagers as just young, innocent kids having a fun night out with their friends, here’s something that might make you think otherwise.
The teenagers were actually riding “basikal lajak”, which involved the cycling of modified bicycles. In this case, the bicycle handles were adjusted to be lower than the seats, and the brakes were removed.
No safety equipment, such as helmets, bells or lights, were installed on the bikes either.
Riders often lie flat on the bicycle seat with their hands holding the handlebars, using their weight to propel them forwards, causing riders to zigzag across lanes on the road.
Needless to say, it’s a dangerous activity that could very well result in an accident anywhere, regardless of the time and place.
Given the irresponsible nature of basikal lajak, it’s no surprise that many Malaysians began to rally behind Sam, claiming that she did not do anything wrong and that the accident was very much out of her control.
Additionally, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali also mentioned in 2019 that the teenagers had chosen to race each other down a road that had “dim lighting”.
“It is impossible for the accused to have predicted the whereabouts of the group of teenagers behind the road hill at 3am in the morning.
The hilly road conditions had limit(ed) the line of sight of the road user,” she noted.
Driver Did Not Break Any Traffic Rules
In addition to that, it was also discovered that Sam had observed the traffic rules, according to her acquittal in 2019.
Back then, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali noted that Sam was driving within the speed limit, having operated her car at around 44.5km/h.
She was not under the influence of alcohol, nor was she using her phone either.
Previously Acquitted Twice
Although this might seem like a fresh case, Sam has actually been acquitted twice: once in 2019 and another time in 2021.
After she pled not guilty and claimed trial back in 2017, she was acquitted and discharged by the Magistrate’s Court on 28 October 2019 without her defence being called.
According to reports by The Straits Times, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali announced that the prosecution failed to prove a case back then. This was due to the “failure of the investigation officer to investigate the case properly”.
However, an appeal from the prosecution was allowed in 2021.
This led to Sam’s case being brought up again in the Magistrate’s Court on 28 February 2021. Thereafter, she was once again acquitted and discharged on 10 October 2021.
Her most recent conviction was passed down on 13 April this year, after prosecution filed yet another appeal.
Sam was also ordered by Justice Abu Bakar to begin serving her jail sentence immediately after his ruling, and denied her a stay of execution as well.
Reason Behind Convicting Sam After Acquitting Her
Here’s the question everyone’s been wondering about: if she was acquitted the past two times, what was the factor that made the court convict her this time round?
According to reports by The Star, High Court Judge Abu Bakar Katar said the Magistrate’s Court “erred in failing to decide on the respondent’s defence without her being under oath”.
“The respondent, in her defence, stated that she did not see the group of cyclists at the scene and there was another vehicle that hit the deceased cyclists and drove off. This version was never raised by the respondent during the prosecution’s case.
“The Magistrate’s Court made a mistake when it accepted the respondent’s defence of not knowing there would be basikal lajak activity during the time of the incident as an excuse to drive dangerously, which resulted in the victims’ death,” he explained.
He also added how Sam should have “been aware of road safety if she drove her car beyond the speed limit of 50km/h before reaching the scene of the incident”, given that there was limited visibility of the road at the time of the accident.
“The respondent should have driven vigilantly instead of driving fast and causing the incident, and should have realised that the area’s lighting was not bright at around 3.20am,” he emphasised.
Sam is Currently Out on Bail
After her sentencing last Wednesday (13 April), she has since been granted bail.
Although High Court judge Justice Abu Bakar Katar initially denied her a stay of execution and bail, this was soon overturned by a panel from the Appeals Court.
The panel, which consisted of three members and was chaired by Justice P. Ravinthran, granted Sam, bail of RM10,000 (approximately S$3,209) pending the hearing of her appeal.
They also allowed her leave to appeal, as well as a stay of execution on the High Court’s sentence against her.
Sam was brought to court in handcuffs and a blue baju kurung, having been escorted from a prison.
“The applications are granted. Bail is fixed at RM10,000 in one surety,” Justice Ravinthran announced.
A leave to appeal for Sam was required to bring the case to the Court of Appeal since her case originated from the Magistrate’s Court.
“If leave had not been granted today, our case would have ended here,” Muhammad Faizal, Sam’s lawyer, told local media.
After all the reactions that this case has garnered from citizens across Malaysia, it’s no surprise that various online petitions to free Sam have emerged on the Internet.
With petitions written in English, Malay and Chinese, several of these petitions like these ones have garnered over 871,000 signatures each.
Many have also left comments in support of Sam, citing how her young life and potential is being ruined by something that “was not her fault”.
Based on The Edge Markets‘ report, Faizal also spoke at a press conference on behalf of Sam.
He also affirmed that his client 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,” he noted.
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Future of the Court Case
Yup, there’s still more, even though Sam is out on bail now.
Based on reports by The Star, Sam’s lawyer has stated that there are still several questions that will determine the outcome of Sam’s case.
These questions will be formally raised in the appeal of her case.
The six questions as mentioned by The Star include:
- Whether Sam’s unsworn statement can “be accepted as an explanation in her defence, while supported by other testimonies”.
- Whether the speed at which she drove her car “is considered dangerous as compared to the presence of the group of bicycles on the main road”.
- Whether or not there is a “burden of proof” on Sam to “be aware of unforeseen risks, specifically at a hilly and dark road”, and “to show she was driving carefully compared to a group of cyclists who obstructed the main road”.
Well, I guess only time can tell what the outcome of this case will be.
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