Chinese national gets jail, fine in Malaysia for joking that his bag contained bombs on flight

Zheng Hao joked that his bag was heavy because it contained two bombs.
Zheng Hao joked that his bag was heavy because it contained two bombs. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SEPANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Chinese national who joked about carrying two bombs in his bag was fined by a magistrate's court here and sentenced to five days in jail.

Zheng Hao, 38, from Tianjin, pleaded guilty to a criminal intimidation charge under Section 506 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence and a fine, or both.

The insurance broker allegedly committed the offence at 12.20am on Monday on board China Air Flight CA872 from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing.

When asked by a flight attendant why his bag was heavy, as he was trying to place it in the overhead compartment, Hao had joked that it was because it contained two bombs.

Counsel James Ee said his client was unaware that he was committing an offence as he was only joking.

"It was an innocent and silly joke," Mr Ee told the court on Thursday (Dec 3).

"My client made that joke because 'as heavy as a bomb' is a common saying in China when describing a heavy load carried by someone," said Mr Ee, adding that Hao was responding to a flight attendant as he was trying to put his bag in the flight's overhead compartment.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ungku Alfiati Zabeidah Ungku Ismail urged the court to impose a deterrent punishment as a lesson to Hao and the general public.

"Although it was meant to be a joke, the accused caused fear and panic especially as he was on board a long flight to Beijing. He also caused trouble as the flight had to be delayed," she said.

Magistrate Sharifah Muhaymin Abd Khalib ordered Hao to serve five days' jail and fined him RM7,000 (S$2,320), or five months' jail in default.