A Malaysian human rights advocate who was killed in a car crash while trying to protect two women in a courtroom in the southern province of Johor on Wednesday has been identified as Jee Meng Chee.
The Malaysian High Court said in a statement on Friday that Meng was killed when a car hit him in the chest and rear of a house in the city of Johar.
Jee was an advocate in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, a government body which is charged with upholding the rights of ethnic Malays in Malaysia, the statement said.
The court said Meng’s death “shatters the heart of Malaysian citizens”.
“The death of a human rights defender will be a huge blow to our country,” said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Malaysia’s Minister of State for Human Rights.
“This is a devastating blow to the nation’s people, especially our citizens in Johor and the rest of Johorese.”
Malaysia’s President, Najib Razak, said in televised comments that Meng, who was a lawyer and human rights activist, was “a dear friend” and “a pillar of the Malaysian people”.
“He will be remembered by all for his courageous and steadfast work in the struggle for the rights and dignity of all Malaysians,” Najib said.
He added that he would also “pay a deep and sincere tribute” to Meng’s family.
The car in which Meng was riding, which was travelling southbound on the road to Johor, hit a building, police said.
Witnesses told local media that Meng’s car was stopped at a light and he had been trying to help the two women who were being held in the house when he was hit by the car.
The women were taken to hospital, where they died, police added.
“It is difficult to believe that a man could have caused such a terrible accident,” Jee’s family said in an emotional statement.
“His life was taken from him in such a tragic manner.
His death is a tragedy, a tragedy that will never be forgotten.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of the victims of this accident.”
The case has sparked anger and anger in the country and the world.
Malaysian officials have denied wrongdoing in Meng’s killing and have said the driver was speeding and did not see Meng before he was struck.
The accident sparked nationwide protests, with demonstrators demanding the immediate release of the men.
The victims’ families also expressed grief and anger.
Malay news portal NTT reported that the two were sisters, and their mother said they were in love and had just celebrated their tenth birthday.