Refrain from criticising Najib’s jail sentence reduction, says PM


PUTRAJAYA: An explanation cannot be demanded from the Pardons Board, which is chaired and decided by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, regarding the reduction in jail sentence and fine meted out to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“If there is anyone who wants an explanation, please submit a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” said the Prime Minister.

He urged the public to refrain from making criticisms and for all to respect the decision of the Pardons Board. He said the main consideration was not legal matters but the compassion of the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“The main consideration is about mercy and compassion, or what the former Yang di- Pertuan Agong referred to as the ‘fountain of mercy’.

“Whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong chooses to explain or not is within His Majesty’s prerogative,” Anwar said at the monthly assembly with staff of the Prime Minister’s Department here yesterday, Bernama reported.

Anwar said this in connection with the Pardons Board’s decision in halving the former premier’s 12-year prison sentence and reducing the fine of RM210mil to RM50mil.

Citing Article 113 of the Prisons Regulations 2000, Anwar said the Pardons Board must provide views and consider the rights of any detainee or prisoner.

“Some claim that every detainee must be in prison for a minimum of three years. This is not true. Anyone undergoing the process for the first time can appeal, and it will be heard.

“So, I do acknowledge that responsibility, but if it is said that the Prime Minister submitted the application and appeal from Najib too early, I affirm that as soon as I receive any appeal, I request the Pardons Board to discuss it.

“The process is based on the procedure at a meeting I attended last Dec 9, which involved considering the grounds for appeal, including their (prisoners) life journey, family, life in prison, services and contributions, whether to the family or the community and in the case of Najib, to the country. All of these factors are taken into consideration.”

Anwar said every member of the Pardons Board will give their views, and ultimately, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will make the decision.

“So the issue of blaming the Prime Minister, the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong, the Attorney General or the Federal Constitution does not arise.

“The power has been given since Independence, that the decisions are at the discretion of the Malay Rulers,” said Anwar.

He added that he hoped the explanation would quell the issue.

Najib, 70, has been serving a prison sentence at Kajang Prison since Aug 23, 2022, after being convicted of misappropriating RM42mil from SRC International.

He filed a petition for a royal pardon on Sept 2, 2022.

On July 8, 2020, the High Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210mil after finding him guilty of three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of position.

Najib’s appeal against the conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2021 and the Federal Court on Aug 23, 2022, making a royal pardon his only hope for freedom.

Meanwhile, Anwar denied allegations that the unity government was not firm in addressing corruption following the Pardons Board’s decision to reduce Najib’s prison sentence and fine.

“The issue being raised here is that allegedly, we are being lax on corruption issues, (now) this is untrue,” he said.

He said the judicial process would continue, adding that never at any time had Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi given him an ultimatum regarding Najib’s pardon.

“He (Najib) or his party has the right to have the Prime Minister and the Pardons Board consider it,” Anwar said.

He said there were many priorities for the unity government, such as economic matters and reviewing the salaries of civil servants.

Anwar said the issue of governance and the firm stance against corruption is comprehensive. He said the government has no inclination to withdraw this stance.

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Najib , Anwar Ibrahim , Pardons Board

   

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