- Published on Thursday, 23 February 2017 12:04
Despite the majority of Malaysians are keen on blaming the parents of the cyclists following the incident of a Chinese woman driver ramming into a group of teen cyclists that caused eight deaths in Johor Bahru on February 18, lawyer Datuk Zulkifli Noordin has chosen to highlight an often overlooked fact in the media frenzy over the tragic accident.
The former Kulim-Bandar Baharu Member of Parliament questioned the statements of several parties including the police that make it seem like the children involved in the incident are to be solely blamed apart from expressing his puzzlement as to why the identity of the driver has not been released by the authorities compared to most of the cases before this.
"No one questioned what a 22 year old woman was doing driving alone at 3 am? And why is the identity of the driver not revealed but the identity of the victims and their parents are revealed instead?
"Usually if a tragic accident like this happens, the identity of the driver who caused the accident will quickly be revealed; but in this particular case I'm a bit puzzled!" Zulkifli said in a media statement on Tuesday.
In the 3 am incident, eight male teenagers suffered fatal injuries after they were hit by a car driven by the unidentified woman, while four others broke their legs, two are currently in critical condition due to haemorrhaging in the brain, another sustained head injury and another injured their hip but the identity of the driver has not been revealed until today.
On Sunday, Johor Police Chief, Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd notified that the 22-year-old driver has been released on police bail after her statement was recorded.
Wan Ahmad also denied eyewitness claims who witnessed the incident claiming that the driver was using her mobile phone while driving.
"Is the driver being given special protection; is she from a certain family that must be protected? Up until now I have not heard of any threats to the Chinese lady that justifies her identity not to be revealed!" Zulkifli said.
"Why was the authority quick to make a decision and release the driver; and more unfortunately when there are parties that are threatening to take action against the parents of the children for allowing or letting their children to cycle at 3 am!"
According to Zulkifli, based on the photos from the accident site, it was clear that the lady driver hit the victims from the back and the strong impact shows that the driver was either negligent or was in a situation where she could not control her vehicle.
"In the language of law there is a principle called res ipsa loqitur - something that speaks for itself.
"This means that there is a prima facie case that needs to be investigated in detail. I hope that we would act wisely and rationally in this tragedy, and not be carried away by emotion, prejudice and bias outlook," he said.
He explained that it is not wrong for someone including children to cycle in the morning and on the road.
"What is clear is that hitting someone or a vehicle from the back on the road is an offence prima facie!
"Is it because the children were cycling at 3 am in groups that they can be rammed into from the back just like that; and they are to be blamed?" he asked.
Because of that, Zulkifli urged the police to look into their investigation again and to explore several questions regarding the cause of the incident because he believes that the woman driver did not drive lawfully.
"The question of them cycling at 3 am in groups is not the issue! That may be a social issue that needs to be handled separately through urgent measures.
"But this is a tragic road accident! A vehicle rammed into a group of cyclists from the back on the left hand side of the road that caused eight deaths. Prima facie that there was something not right with her driving or her handling of the car by the driver," he stated.
He also advised family members of the victims to refer to lawyers to consider taking the case to court and if they are not satisfied with the investigation by the authorities, they can file a prerogative writ at the High Court for a suitable order.