SEPANG — October 6, 2016: Nine Australians were today cautioned and discharged by a Sessions Court here after they pleaded guilty and apologised for their mischief at the Malaysian Formula 1 race last Sunday.
The men, aged 25 to 29, were charged for stripping down to their swimming trunks emblazoned with the Malaysian national flag at the Sepang International Circuit.
The accused included an officer with the Australia’s Defence Ministry, Jack Robert Walker, 26.
Others charged were Dr. Adam Patrick Pasfield, 26; account manager Brandon Stob, 26; manager Edward Timothy Leany, 25; engineer Thomas Craig Laslett, 28; chief operations officer Thomas James Withworth, 28; student Timothy William Fiashi Yakes, 29; property developer James Daniel Pave, 27, and self-employed Nicholas William Daymond Kelly, 27.
They were represented by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad prosecuted.
The nine appeared calm when they pleaded guilty after the interpreter had read out the charge in English. The charge carries a fine of up to RM400 upon conviction.
Judge Harith Sham Mohamed Yasin described their behaviour at the circuit as inappropriate and had provoked the sensitivity of Malaysians.
“The swimming trunks contain elements of the Malaysian flag, which represents the sovereignty of the country.
“I hope the incident will serve as a reminder to people travelling to the country to respect local custom and culture,” said the judge.
In making the decision Harith Sham took into consideration the ages of the accused, their lack of awareness on Malaysian customs, their remorse and that they had been remanded for four days.
Shafee applied for the court to refer to Section 173A of the Criminal Procedure Code on the power to discharge,
considering his clients’ ages and that it was a culture in Australia to wear bikinis, swimming trunks and even slippers bearing the Australian flag.
Withworth, on behalf of all nine, read out an apology addressed to Malaysias.
“We are remorseful of our actions on that day. We had no idea that our conduct would be deemed to be inappropriate, crass or even downright offensive to the citizens of the country.
“Please know that we do not have the slightest intention to undermine or degrade the dignity of the Jalur Gemilang of this country or her people.
“Please understand that our actions were purely an oversight on our part which stemmed from our lack of knowledge of the culture and national sensitivities of the people of Malaysia.”
Shortly after reading the apology, Withworth collapsed in the dock and was given water. His handcuff was removed and he was allowed to sit until the proceeding ended. — Bernama