Contempt of court filings should be made against Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for his assertion that the judiciary was not independent when it acquitted a driver of killing eight teen cyclists in Johor, DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh said today.
The DAP national legal bureau chairman and lawmaker said Zahid’s remarks concerning the reckless driving judgment undermined public confidence in the neutrality and integrity of the courts by alleging the government of intervening in the high-profile case.
“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 who is also Bukit Gelugor MP said in a statement.
He urged the attorney general or the court itself to initiate contempt proceedings against Zahid.
The Umno leader reportedly said on the Tanjung Piai campaign trail yesterday that “this is a double standard government” when commenting on the court’s decision to free Sam Ke Ting who was charged with reckless driving, resulting in the death of eight children.
In her October 28 ruling, Magistrate Siti Hajar Ali said the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case as she noted the motorist was not driving dangerously and could not have anticipated that there would be children riding modified bicycles, known colloquially as basikal lajak, on a dark and winding road in Johor Baru at 3am on February 18, 2017.
Ramkarpal pointed out that the Federal Court had jailed and fined lawyer Arun Kasi on a contempt charge for unfairly criticising its judgment in another case.
Arun Kasi was jailed for 30 days and slapped with a RM40,000 fine.
“With respect, Ahmad Zahid’s statement is equally, if not more serious, and ought not escape the long arm of the law. If Arun Kasi was cited for contempt, there is no reason why Ahmad Zahid should not,” he said.
Ramkarpal added that failure to act against Zahid could normalise his remarks, which would tarnish the judiciary’s reputation.