A ‘get out of jail’ card for Najib?


So Umno is pushing for a royal pardon for Najib Razak.

This news is hardly surprising, as talk had already surfaced soon after his conviction.

Some quarters in Umno seem to think this is the right thing to do, more so now, when they believe the decision in Najib’s SRC International case is supposedly ‘unfair’.

The basis for seeking this royal pardon apparently stems from the sole dissenting judgment of Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, who felt Najib did not receive a fair hearing during his final appeal.

The Umno supreme council does not seem to realise that one dissenting judge is not enough to overturn the sentence – because four other Federal Court judges had upheld Najib’s conviction.

It is understandable that Umno leaders would want to come up with any excuse, as they have to be seen to be doing something to get their former boss out of jail. Hence, their only alternative is to play this royal pardon card.

But what was hilarious was Umno secretary general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki’s statement that the supreme council had received memos from Umno divisions urging the party’s top leadership to defend Najib, as the former party president and former PM had contributed much to the people and the country.

Does this mean that, just because Najib was once the party president and former PM, we should absolve him from criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to SRC’s RM42m?

Should any former PM, party president or party member convicted of money laundering and abuse of power while in office be given a royal pardon? What would this say about the judges and the Malaysian judicial system?

Will it come down to just one dissenting voice on the panel to give rise to a royal pardon for other politicians? Is this the ‘winning hand’ that Umno is hoping it can use should something similar happen in the future? Would the Malaysian judiciary then become a farce?

Malaysia is already well known for its vast corruption at all levels of government, and it has become even more ‘famous’ with the shenanigans surrounding 1MDB. Do we really need to be put on the world stage again with such ‘get out of jail’ cards or, to be blunt, ‘royal pardon’ cards?

Zahid Hamidi has reportedly sought the King’s compassion to grant a full pardon to Najib: “We do not intend to insist, but we request the King to consider the appeal from Umno.”

What did the Umno president mean by saying, “We do not intend to insist…” Was this a threat? What would happen if the King denies this ‘request’?

The possibility of a royal pardon for Najib has evoked powerful feelings on both sides.

Bersih has over 150,000 signatures on its online petition, and these signatories are adamant that Najib does not deserve to be pardoned. They want him to serve time in prison and pay the RM210m fine. For them, if Najib is granted a pardon, it would be tantamount to not recognising the judiciary’s judgment and closing an eye to the immensity of the crime he committed.

A rival petition supports a royal pardon for Najib as it feels the trial was flawed, based largely on the sole dissenting judgement. This petition has received about 21,000-plus signatories.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has received harsh criticism for being part of the pardons panel that will advise the King.

Although the PM seems unfazed by this, he must remember that many people believed in him, his coalition and its manifesto, resulting in Pakatan Harapan winning the most seats in the general election last November.

Yes, it was unfortunate that PH did not win enough seats to form the government on its own and had to work with Umno and other parties to form this “unity government”.

Some people criticised Anwar when he chose Umno’s Zahid as his Deputy Prime Minister, knowing the latter was part of the so-called ‘court cluster’. Was there some collusion between Zahid and the prime minister to free Najib? Inquiring minds want to know!

The prime minister is trying to achieve a lot for the country and its people, and many in Malaysia are pleased. He has also gone around speaking about his Malaysia Madani (Civil Malaysia) concept

Thus, the alleged conspiracy between Zahid and the prime minister, if true, would not be to Anwar’s advantage.

People remember the stance the PM took in opposing all forms of corruption and his view that those caught must face the consequences.

Anwar should thus recuse himself from the pardons panel to prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he will have no part in any recommendation or decision on the pardon. Only when he does that can the prime minister stand tall and say he is serious about cleaning up the corruption that is rife in government, and that the judiciary has the last say.

Hopefully, the pardons process will not be the slip where the prime minister falls flat on his face!