JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Five years after his son survived a crash involving basikal lajak (modified bicycles), Salman Ahmed never misses the opportunity to tell off such cyclists whenever he sees them on the road.
“I will stop my car, get my phone and take their photos in plain view. I would threaten to report them to the police if they do not go home immediately.
“And I would usually tell them that they can sit in the police lockup until their parents come to pick them up,” said the 56-year-old former bus driver.
His son Muhamad Arif Salman is one of the survivors of the 2017 tragedy in which a car driven by Sam Ke Ting, now 27, ploughed into a group of teenage riders.
Eight boys, aged between 13 and 16, were killed.
The accident left his youngest son with a cracked skull and vision problems.
The case involving the young ethnic Chinese woman who ploughed into these bicycles on a Johor road at 3.30am on Feb 18, 2017 – killing eight Malay boys – has again raised racial tensions in Malaysia.
Sam was ordered last week to start her jail term by the Johor High Court, although she will appeal her case to a higher court.
Many compared her case of being sent to jail, against that involving ex-Malaysian premier Najib Razak who is out on bail, although he has been convicted by the High Court and then the Appeals Court in a corruption case related to the 1MDB state fund. Najib is appealing his case to the apex Federal Court.
Two online petitions seeking justice for Sam had collectively amassed more than 1 million signatures in the past few days.
Some questioned how come the parents of the boys were not investigated for allowing their young children out well after after midnight.
But in the raging debate over the issue, some wanted the young woman to be punished for killing eight young people.
No brakes, no lights
A basikal lajak is one whose handlebars are lowered to the same level as the seat. The machine typically does not have brakes or lights to add to the thrill for its rider, but this poses a danger to other motorists .
The lowered handlebars would allow the rider to lie down flat on the seat with his arms holding the handlebars when the machine is moving fast, in what is called a “superman” move.
Salman, after his son’s accident, gets worked up these days when he sees such cyclists, known as mat lajak.
“It is frustrating to see the kids still out on the streets. I would tell them off as I do not want others to go through what my family went through,” he told Sunday Star.