Senior lawyers: Magistrate erred, teen driver’s licence should have been revoked

By Pearl Lee and Reena Raj
Teen driver Ng Pei Ven (centre) is charged for driving against the traffic flow on the fast lane of the North-South Expressway last Tuesday, hitting nine other cars and killing a 26-year-old motorist. ― Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, March 18 — Ng Pei Ven should not have been allowed to continue to drive on our roads.

Senior lawyers Malay Mail spoke to said magistrate Jamaliah Abd Manap erred in coming to her decision to not impound the accused driving licence. 

Surjan Singh Sidhu said the magistrate has inherent jurisdiction to use her discretion to impose any form of order she deemed fit.

“The accused was high on drugs and looking at the gravity of the offence as a whole, the magistrate should have granted the application made by the prosecuting officer.

“It is a case of public interest and the magistrate can use her discretion to revoke the accused person’s licence,” he said.

Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos said in granting bail, the magistrate can set any terms she deems fit.

“The magistrate has the discretion to set the condition of bail and this includes impounding the accused persons’s driving licence.

He said this regardless whether the accused had been found guilty under the Road Transport Act.

Another lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu said the magistrate should have temporarily suspended Ng’s driving licence until the case was disposed.

He said given the initial findings, Ng may be a danger to other road users and taking public interest into consideration her licence should have been suspended.

“There were reports she has some medical condition and therefore she might need counselling or help to deal with her condition,” he said.

Baljit said the prosecutor should take the matter up to the High Court for revision on an urgent basis.

Datuk Haziq Pillai however was of the view the judge can only exercise her discretion during sentencing or when the law permits or if there are special circumstances.

“She cannot act on a frolic of her own. If there are no provisions under the Dangerous Drugs Act for the accused persons’s licence to be revoked, then the magistrate acted correctly,” he said.