SEPANG – The father of one of the nine Australians who stripped down to Jalur Gemilang-themed swimwear has welcomed the court decision to let them off with a warning.
John Walker, the father of Jack Walker who is an adviser to the Australian Defence Industry Minister, said he was relieved that all the nine men could return home.
“All of our family members back home and here today are just relieved the boys are going home,” he told the press outside the Sessions Court here yesterday.
John, who is also Kalgoorlie council chief in Western Australia, said the nine were all “good boys”.
“We only have one mission in our life and that’s to look after our children, and we try our best,” said John, who flew in to Kuala Lumpur to support his son.
Asked what his reaction was when he learnt that his son had been detained here, John said he could not believe it at first.
“I was worried, and I am glad that this is over now,” he said.
In the dock facing a charge of causing public nuisance were Jack, 29, Branden Stobbs, 29, Edward Leaney, 25, Nicolas Kelly, 27, Thomas Laslett, 28, Thomas Whitworth, 28, James Paver, 27, Adam Pasfield, 25, and Timonthy Yates, 29.
They all turned up clad in suits, button-down shirts and slacks.
Judge Harith Sham Mohamed Yasin had invoked Section 173(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code not to mete out any punishment despite the nine pleading guilty to the charge under Section 290 of the Penal Code.
The offence carries a fine not exceeding RM400.
He reminded the nine that Malaysia had a different culture.
Earlier, lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said his clients had offered to apologise to the people of Malaysia for their “folly and ignorance pertaining to the culture here”.
“They felt terrible for causing the embarrassment,” he said.
Whitworth, who volunteered to read out a two-page apology representing himself and others, said they “sincerely apologise” for their actions which had offended the sentiments of Malaysians.
“We are remorseful of our actions on that day. Please know that we do not have the slightest of intentions to undermine or degrade the dignity of the Jalur Gemilang, the 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 cultural and national sensitivities of the people in Malaysia,” he said.
Whitworth fainted soon after he read the letter, believed to be from dehydration.
Muhammad Shafee also pointed out in court that the media had “wrongly reported” that the men were clad in “underwear” and “briefs”.
He said they were actually wearing “swimming trunks” and having the national flag emblazoned on this attire was “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.
Muhammad Shafee said most of his clients were part-time lifeguards and stripping down to swimming trunks was “almost second nature” to them.
He added that his clients were remorseful for their actions and that the offence was “trivial” and should not be recorded as a conviction. – The Star Online