PM has to be on the board, says lawyer


PETALING JAYA: With no Federal Territories Minister appointed to the current Cabinet, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be part of the Pardons Board as the de facto minister, says senior lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

He cited Article 42(5) of the Constitution as stating that the Pardons Board consists of the Attorney General, the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar, or the Federal Territories Minister, and no more than three members appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“Because there isn’t a Federal Territories Minister, therefore Anwar, as the Prime Minister, will act as the de facto minister.

“That is why Anwar will be the one sitting on the Pardons Board if and when Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s pardon is considered by the board,” he added.

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Mohamed Haniff also cited a precedent made on May 16, 2018, when Anwar’s pardon was scrutinised by the Pardons Board committee consisting of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“As there was no proper Cabinet that time, Dr Mahathir was the Prime Minister and he was gazetted to assume the functions of every other minister,” he said.

The lawyer was asked to comment on Umno’s announcement on Friday that it was seeking an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to present an application to consider a royal pardon for the former prime minister, also a former party president.

Mohamed Haniff said a second royal pardon application for Najib can only be submitted from Aug 23, 2025, onwards, because the first such application was filed by Najib on Sept 2 last year.

“Najib went to prison on Aug 23, 2022, and applied for a royal pardon on Sept 2.

“The second application can only be filed from Aug 23, 2025, onwards,” said Mohamed Haniff.

The third and subsequent applications, he noted, can only be filed at two-year gaps, according to Regulation 113 of the Prisons Regulations 2000, under which the required time frame for pardon applications is stipulated.

The Federal Court upheld Najib’s 12-year jail sentence and RM210mil fine in the RM42mil SRC International Sdn Bhd case on Aug 23 last year.

On March 31, the Federal Court, in a 4-1 majority decision, rejected Najib’s bid for leave to review his conviction and sentence in the case.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Haniff also pointed out that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong does not have a deadline to decide on whether or not to grant a pardon.

“We cannot interfere and tell the King what to do because his constitutional powers cannot be questioned,” he said.

He also said that just as Umno will be submitting a memorandum to the King to consider a royal pardon for Najib, the public can do the reverse.

“There’s nothing stopping the public from creating a petition to object to Najib’s pardon and forwarding it to the King,” he added.

Constitutional lawyer Surendra Ananth said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is not bound by the advice of the Pardons Board.

“This appears to be the position based on a number of Federal Court cases. The exercise of that power has been termed ‘prerogative of mercy’, which belongs to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler of the State.

“Ultimately, (the Ruler) makes the decision,” said Surendra.

In the Federal Court 4-1 ruling on March 31, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, who chaired the five-member bench, was the dissenting voice who stated that Najib did not have legal representation after the counsel of his choice, Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, had refused to represent him further in the final appeal.

Abdul Rahman said the Federal Court was wrong when it refused to allow Hisyam to discharge himself.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has said the dissenting judgement will be used to support his client’s application for a royal pardon.

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