Anwar: Every citizen has the right to seek a pardon

A nice surprise: Anwar engaging in light-hearted moments with the public during a lunch break at the Pertama Complex food court in Kuala Lumpur. — SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

PETALING JAYA: It was a fair decision by the Pardons Board to commute Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s sentence by half, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said Najib had gone through a legal process and is now serving a prison sentence after his conviction.

ALSO READ: Najib gets his clemency, but still has to serve jail time

However, it is the right of every citizen to appeal to the King for a pardon, he added.

As a constitutional monarch, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the bastion to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, said Anwar.

He said the King would consult the Attorney General and the Prime Minister, among others, before making a decision on a pardon.

Anwar said he used to sit on the Pardons Board when he was in charge of the Federal Territories.

ALSO READ: Passionate response from both sides over Board’s decision

“The King, after listening to the board, finally decided to reduce the sentence by 50%, which means if the RM50mil (fine) is paid then he will be released in August 2028, but if it is not paid, then it will be extended by another year to 2029,” he said in a special interview with Al Jazeera yesterday.

“Having said that, there is an ongoing case in court through a judicial process ... independently ... (that) has to continue,” he said, referring to another case related to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

“At the same time, Najib again has every right to appeal to the new King, so I think the process has to be respected,” he added.

Anwar said the decision was beyond the Prime Minister or the government.

“I respect the decision of the then King (Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah).

“Whatever one feels is very political, some support, some don’t, but they cannot ignore the fact that they must respect the right of anyone convicted to appeal to the Pardons Board,” he said, adding that Najib still had avenues to appeal the decision at a later stage.

Announcing the decision earlier yesterday, the Pardons Board said the convicted former prime minister’s jail term had been reduced from 12 years to six.

This means that Najib will be released on Aug 23, 2028.

The fine imposed on him has also been reduced to RM50mil from RM210mil.

“However, if the fine is not paid, a year will be added to the jail term, and the release date will then be on Aug 23, 2029,” the Pardons Board secretariat said.

Najib is serving a 12-year sentence after having been found guilty of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to RM42mil that had been siphoned from SRC International, a former 1MBD subsidiary.

He was also fined RM210mil.

The former prime minister is also currently on trial on other charges related to 1MDB.

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