Explain grounds for reducing Najib’s jail time, Pardons Board urged

(FMT) – The Federal Territories Pardons Board (FTPB) has been urged to explain its grounds for the decision to halve former prime minister Najib Razak’s prison sentence from 12 to six years.

Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin acknowledged that the board is not required to explain its decision, but maintained that doing so would serve public interest.

“I think this is a case of high public interest. It involves someone who was the prime minister and still has a considerable following, and involves a crime that a lot of Malaysians find extremely serious.

“Though the decision has been made, and we respect it because it was done according to the law, I think it’s important that a representative of the board explain what were the grounds for this reduction,” the former minister said at an event.

Muda secretary-general Amir Hadi said he hoped the other members of the board would not absolve themselves of responsibility over the decision and pass the buck to the former king.

“The (Federal Territories) Pardons Board must state the arguments that were brought to the table in advising that Najib’s sentence should be reduced,” he said in a posting on X.

Muda president Amira Aisya Abd Aziz said Malaysians deserve an explanation on the board’s decision, which she described as “embarrassing”.

“Don’t be selective in fighting corruption,” she said in her own X posting.

Their call for the board to provide an explanation echoes yesterday’s calls by two lawyers FMT spoke to.

Constitutional lawyer Bastian Pius Vendargon said it was crucial for the board to provide “well-founded and transparent reasons” for its decision, as it was a widely known and significant case.

Charles Hector, meanwhile, said the board’s decisions should be made public and accompanied by concise explanations, and that it should be posted on its website.

Aside from a shorter prison sentence, Najib’s fine has been reduced from RM210 million to RM50 million.

The FTPB said it agreed for Najib to be released on Aug 23, 2028. However, if he fails to pay the RM50 million fine, he would be released on Aug 23, 2029.

Each state has its own Pardons Board, appointed by the respective sultan or governor. The only exception is the federal territories, where members are appointed by the king.

The FTPB is headed by the king and consists of five members – the attorney-general, the federal territories minister (currently, Dr Zaliha Mustafa) and a maximum of three others appointed by the king.

The former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Pahang’s Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, presided over the board’s meeting last Monday.