Dilemma for Anwar amid Zahid’s ‘justice for Najib’ call

Ahmad Atory Hussain says the prime minister should advise his Cabinet members to refrain from issuing statements that could be seen as attempts to interfere in court decisions.

(MalaysiaNow) – Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s open call for Najib Razak to be given justice could jeopardise the image of the government led by Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim, an analyst says ahead of the former prime minister’s review application on his conviction, 12-year jail term and fine for the misappropriation of tens of millions.

Zahid had made the call in his policy speech at the recent Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, labelling the charges against Najib as “political and selective prosecution”.

“Now, he is alone there,” the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman added, referring to Kajang Prison where Najib is serving a 12-year jail term.

“We demand that he be given justice in court. We demand a fair trial be given to Najib.”

Ahmad Atory Hussain of Universiti Sains Malaysia said it was inappropriate for Zahid, as one of Anwar’s two deputy prime ministers, to issue political statements and touch on what had already been decided in court.

“The courts made their decision,” Atory added.

“Zahid is making political statements. This is between Najib and the courts, so other people, especially ministers, should stay out of it.”

Najib was convicted in July 2020 by the High Court of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.

The decision was upheld by both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

His review application for his conviction and sentence will be heard later today at the apex court.

Atory said that Anwar, as prime minister, should advise his Cabinet members to behave professionally and to refrain from issuing statements that could be seen as attempts to interfere in court decisions.

He said Anwar’s real challenge at this point was not the cooperation between PH and BN, but rather the handful of Umno leaders facing charges in court.

“Anwar is in a dilemma,” he said. “He’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

“He wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the court cases.”

From a legal perspective, senior lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said Najib had already been given justice and exercised his rights by filing an appeal.

Given that the appeal had been heard in accordance with the appropriate laws, he said, it was inappropriate for anyone to go ahead of the court by issuing statements.

“If Najib can show the Federal Court in the review proceedings that a miscarriage of justice took place, then the decision could be set aside,” he said.

“If he can prove this, then there should be a re-appeal of the Federal Court decision.”

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