All nine Australian men who stripped to their underwear at Sunday's Formula 1 race were cautioned and discharged by a Sessions Court after they pleaded guilty and apologised for their behaviour.
Judge Harith Sham Mohamed Yasin invoked Section 173 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to not mete out any punishment despite the nine pleading guilty to charges of causing public nuisance.
“What you have done was totally inappropriate and you have provoked the sensitivity of Malaysians.
“The elements in the flag are a symbol of sovereignty and official religion of the country.
“You must consider that Malaysia has a different culture to yours.
“I hereby exercise my power in accordance with 173 (A), I hereby discharge you from the charge and caution all of you,” he said.
One of the accused, 28-year-old Tom Whitworth read out an apology during the mitigation proceeding from the dock.
Describing their actions as “inappropriate”, Whitworth, who works as a chief operating officer for a finance company, said they had no idea that their conduct was deemed to be crass or “downright offensive” to the Malaysian citizens.
“On behalf of my fellow countrymen who were arrested and detained by the Malaysian authority on Oct 2, I apologise sincerely for our actions at the Sepang International F1 Circuit which have offended the feeling and sentiments of the people of this beautiful country,” he said.
The nine men, ages 25 to 29, had pleaded guilty to causing public nuisance under the Penal Code which carries a fine of RM400.
During mitigation, lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said that the media had “wrongly reported” that the men were clad in “underwear” and “briefs.”
Shafee said they were actually wearing “swimming trunks” and having the national flag emblazoned in this attire is “encouraged” in many other countries and looked upon as a “friendly act of patriotism.”
“On Australia Day, it is common to see individuals in bikinis or swimming trunks with the Australian flag walking down the streets,” he said.
Shafee said his clients showed remorse for their actions and the offence was “trivial” and that it should not be recorded as a conviction.
He added that there was also discrimination to the men.
“Because in the paddock in F1, the fairer sex is even less dressed than these nine clients of mine,” he said.
Source -The Star Online-