Mother Of Bicycle Accident Victim Wants More Empathy For Parents
On Wednesday (13 Apr), 27-year-old Sam Ke Ting was sentenced to six years’ jail in Malaysia for crashing her car into a group of cyclists and causing eight deaths in 2017.
The delayed sentence garnered mixed reactions from Malaysians as the issue of modified bicycles, also known as basikal lajak among Malaysians, came into the spotlight.
Many felt that the teenage cyclists themselves should bear some blame for the accident. And with that, their parents too.
Now that the incident has resurfaced five years later, one of the victim’s mothers, Shabariah, expressed her hope that the public will stop blaming the victims’ parents.
After all, the grief of losing her child is a reality she has to grapple with every day.
Parents of bicycle accident victims heavily criticised by public
Ever since she lost her 16-year-old son Mohamad Azhar in the 2017 accident, Shabariah has had to handle the grief of losing her child and the public’s criticisms.
As a single mother, she was heavily criticised for letting her child go out cycling in the middle of the night. It has been a harrowing ordeal for her.
Although five years have passed since her son passed away, Shabariah still keeps his bed and clothes neatly intact.
She shared with The Star that she would hold his clothes in her hand whenever she missed him.
At one point, her children were so worried about their mum’s mental health that they didn’t let her read anything on the media.
When the Johor Bahru High Court sentenced the driver Sam Ke Ting to jail on 13 Apr, Shabariah said their family could finally heave a sigh of relief.
Shabariah hopes that the public will respect the court’s decision and stop blaming the victim’s parents for the accident.
She felt that these critics do not understand the pain that she, and the other parents, are going through.
Even after five years, she is still trying to accept the reality of losing her child and, with the support of her family, is just starting to move on.
Accident survivor still traumatised by incident
In the 2017 cycling accident, eight teenagers lost their lives. But some were lucky enough to survive the crash.
One of them was then 15-year-old Muhamad Arif Salman, who survived despite sustaining severe injuries to his head, face, arms and legs.
He had a cracked skull and had to undergo medical procedures and get stitches done from his scalp down to his jaw.
However, his father, Salman Ahmed, said his son has never been the same since. He has become forgetful and emotionally unstable.
Even mentioning the word “basikal”, bicycle in Malay, would trigger him.
Speaking to The Star, Salman Ahmed echoed Shabariah’s sentiments that the past five years had been tormenting due to the negative comments levelled against them.
He elaborated that there were only victims in this tragedy. All parties are to be blamed for the accident, and the past five years have been an ordeal he wants to move on from.
Father hopes to stop use of modified bicycles
These days, 56-year-old Salman Ahmed is on a mission to stop cyclists from using such modified bicycles, reported The Star.
Every time he sees such bicycles on the road, he stops and takes photos of them. He will also threaten to report the riders to the police if they do not go home.
He urged the public to do the same for the riders’ sake.
Modified bicycles in Malaysia have been in the spotlight ever since the incident and has been debated with renewed vigour with Sam Ke Ting’s sentencing.
Parents have since been advised to stop their children from riding or racing on modified bicycles.
According to The Star, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) chairman said highways are not built for bicycle racing.
Such extreme bicycle activities should only be done in specially designed parks.
In 2020, Malaysia’s Road Transport Act was also amended to include harsher penalties for modified bicycle street racers, reported Malay Mail.
Hope victims’ families will find closure
The accident in 2017 was undoubtedly a massive tragedy for the families of those involved.
It must have been a terrible blow to the victims’ parents, so we should try to show more empathy and refrain from making judgments.
Hopefully, this will serve as a timely reminder to all riders to be cautious when cycling on the roads, avoid using modified bicycles, and abide by regulations.
Now that the sentence has been passed, we hope the victims and their families will find some closure and be able to move forward with their lives.
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