Crime & Courts

Cambodian businesswoman and son charged in Melaka court

MELAKA: A 47-year-old social media influencer, who stirred controversy for accusing the Malays of being lazy in a viral video last month, pleaded not guilty at the Ayer Keroh Sessions Court for a charge of inciting the community.

Businesswoman Mariyah Yaakob was initially hesitant when she was asked by a court translator if she understood the charge read to her in Bahasa Malaysia in front of Sessions Court judge Mohd Sabri Ismail.

After getting some help from her lawyer, Kamal Hisham Jaafar, Mariyah nodded indicating she understood the charge and said: "plead not guilty".

The charge stated that Mariyah used the TikTok application via the address and made the following statement:

"So ada apa-apa, kalau orang Kemboja memang pandai meniaga kan, betul tak? dan orang Kemboja memang rajin, nak dibandingkan dengan orang Melayu, malas…" (Is there anything to it if Cambodians are clever at trade, isn't that right? And Cambodians are hardworking as compared to the Malays, who are lazy...).

The charge said that the posting uploaded at about 6pm on Nov 16, and footage, which was displayed at a house in Bukit Piatu, Kampung Musai, was intended to incite the Malays.

The offence is under Section 505 (c) of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to two years or fine or both, upon conviction.

Mariyah's son, Ezuan Hafsham Mohd Hisyam, 22, who is Mariyah Holding director, pleaded not guilty in the same court for deliberately using the TikTok application at the same address to initiate a video communications featuring his mother uttering the same statement between Nov 14 and 16.

He was charged under Section 232(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and can be punished under Section 233(3) of the same act, which carries a maximum RM50,000 fine or up to two years in jail or both and shall also be liable to a further fine of RM1,000 for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.

State Prosecuting director Ahmad Sazali Omar and deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Nazrin Ali Rahim urged the court to impose a RM30,000 bail each for Mariyah and Ezuan with two Malaysian sureties.

They also urged the court withhold Mariyah's and Ezuan's passports and for the duo to avoid releasing any statements that could affect the court proceeding.

Kamal Hisham, however, pleaded for lower bail stating as his clients have yet to be proven guilty.

He said passports were important documents considering Mariyah is a businesswoman who travelled overseas for work, while Ezuan is studying at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

He said Mariyah is a single mother with three children aged 22, 18 and 13 and all of them were either studying and that her business had not recovered after the Covid-19 pandemic.

"My client's source of income was severely affected due to this case when there was a campaign to boycott her company's product.

"The second accused is only a student who relies on his mother's source of income."

Sabri later set bail at RM15,000 for Mariyah and RM10,000 for Ezuan, and allowed the prosecution's request for their passports to be withheld and for the duo to refrain from giving any statement which could affect the court proceedings.

The court set Jan 12 for submission of documents and remention.

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