Govt must fully explain pardon decision, say groups

PETALING JAYA: The Pardons Board’s decision to reduce Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s sentence has led to queries from civil society groups as to why it was reduced while other criminals had to serve their sentences in full.

Najib should be made to serve out his full sentence of 12 years due to the severity of the offence, said the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih).

In a statement, the group, which has pushed for institutional reforms, said: “Why was Najib’s case given priority, when today there are still many ordinary people who are in prison, waiting their turn to get a pardon?”

The CSO Platform for Reform, an umbrella group representing 60 organisations, said the government must present its reasons for recommending to the board that Najib’s prison term and fine be reduced.

“The rule of law depends on the consistent and fair application of legal standards to all citizens.

“When an amnesty lacks a clear justification, it introduces an element of arbitrariness, suggesting that certain individuals may be exempted from the consequences of the law without sufficient reason,” it said.

Aliran said the Pardons Board should make public the grounds for its decision and the factors that influenced its “leniency” towards Najib.

Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek said the government must take responsibility for Najib’s reduced sentence, as the King only acted on advice tendered to him.

This is because the board is responsible for making recommendations to the King, who is then constitutionally bound to accept and act on the board’s advice, he said.

He added the Federal Territory Pardons Board consists of the Attorney General (AG), the Federal Territories (FT) Minister and appointed members.

“The AG is the Federal Government’s legal adviser and the FT Minister represents the Prime Minister and the Cabinet,” he said.

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