The Speaker was asked this week if prisoner Najib may attend Parliament, and his response is alarming. Even if he was still the Pekan MP, how can he attend the parliamentary meeting starting on 3 October 2022?
The speaker, Tan Sri Azhar Haron, informed the Dewan Rakyat that he lacked the power to decide whether Najib (BN-Pekan) could attend parliamentary sessions. “Since the prisons department is holding him, it is up to them to free him. Every MP has the right to visit Parliament and participate in its procedures. If Najib’s plea is turned down, only then will the enforcement of his exclusion as an MP start.
What The Federal Constitution Say
According to Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution, any Member of Parliament (MP) who is found guilty by the Federal Court of an offence and given a term of imprisonment for not less than one year or a fine of not more than RM2,000 will be unable to hold office. This implies that if no more judicial proceedings or requests for royal pardons are made within that time frame, any MP would be immediately banned from serving as a federal legislator after 14 days.
This mean, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will remain a Pekan member of parliament until the pardon petition process ends. A royal pardon petition was submitted on Sept 2.
But the validity of Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution was subject to 48(4) and Article 53(2) of the Federal Constitution.
As we know, on Aug 23, the Federal Court upheld Najib’s conviction and 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine. He was found guilty of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds.
Najib Razak has the right to ask for clemency, but according to the Malaysian Bar, the time is not right for a royal pardon.
Its president Karen Cheah said while the likes of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, former Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Harun Idris and former minister Mokhtar Hashim were given a royal pardon in the past, the trio had served a substantial part of their jail sentence, which made it proper for them to be pardoned and released.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has amassed approximately 130,000 signatures for its petition requesting that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not pardon convicted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
In contrast, a petition in support of a royal pardon for Najib that was launched by Selangor BNComms has garnered just under 32,000 signatures, as on 1 October 2022.
In a different development, while inaugurating a new sharia court complex in Kuantan in Pahang state on Sept. 5, the king quoted a passage from the Koran that encapsulates Islam’s concept of justice.
The verse states, “Islamic justice does not give any exception or special treatment to anyone who commits an offence, be it ourselves, our close friends, family members, or our parents”.
“Thus, the power to mete out punishment and power to give pardon should not be used without proper consideration because we will have to answer to god in the hereafter,” he said.
“If the law is not carried out consistently and fairly, then justice will not prevail. Because the spirit behind the enactment of the law has been violated. When this happens, then the weak will become the victim of those with power,”
In a rare move, one of Malaysia’s sultans on Monday backed the king in saying that royal pardons cannot be granted arbitrarily or through any special treatment, as the ruling party leans on the palace to give one to imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Neither Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj nor King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah mentioned Najib or anyone else by name in their respective statements.
Who Has the Power to Pardon?
The decision to pardon was not solely in the hand of the King. Even though the King has the power to pardon, the monarch can only act after having consulted or been recommended by the Pardons Board.
Effective 1994, after the Constitution was amended during Mahathir’s administration to clip the power of the royal house, it was no longer the King’s discretion to decide on the grant or refusal of a pardon. The Pardons Board consists of the King, the Attorney General, the Minister of Federal Territories and three other members appointed by the Malay Ruler.
However, the Prime Minister’s Department prepares a report for the Pardons Board. And the board shall consider any written opinion from the Attorney General. And both the PM and A.G. are not Najib-friendly. This means, that King Sultan Abdullah cannot pardon any subject, including Najib, without the “consent” of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, who saw Najib as his political threat.
To add salt to Najib’s wound, royal pardons are only granted for criminal cases, but not bankruptcy, which the former premier also faces. The best part is he has four more criminal court cases, all related to the 1MDB scandal. That’s why his defence lawyers were fighting nail and tooth to win – but ultimately failed – the first SRC International corruption case involving RM42 million.
Then only the Pardons Board can begin its meetings because it still must wait for reports from the prison to be prepared before it can advise the King. Without those reports, the A.G. will not be able to give his opinion. Here’s the best part – a second such petition is only allowed when a prisoner has completed three years from the date of conviction, and thereafter at two-year intervals.
It appears that at the very least, Najib must accustom to the prison lifestyle for the next 3 years before a royal pardon can be considered. This is where it gets interesting. By 2025, the current Agong would have passed the baton to the next Sultan, most likely Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, who too has spectacular relations with Najib. To avoid headaches, Sultan Abdullah could pass the problem to the new King.
From our analysis, Najib’s pardon petition is the first of its kind, different from all pardon petitions of the past 65 years.
Firstly, all previous pardon petitions contained elements of regret, remorse or contrition for the offence committed, or were filed after the convict served a considerable portion of the sentence.
This is the first time in the nation’s history where a pardon petition is submitted immediately after conviction and implies that the judiciary was wrong to put Najib in jail, an implication that the five judges in the Federal Court had failed the cause of justice in not allowing a postponement of the hearing.
Bear in mind, Najib has four other corruption trials. Is he going to be pardoned every time he is convicted?
What type of message that the Malay Monarch is sending to the people if he throws away all the hard work of 9 senior judges over the last 4 years, just because the King wanted to protect Najib? It would be disgraceful to rape the Judicial, especially at a time when the country finally celebrates the courage of the Court Institution led by Chief Judge, Tengku Maimun.
True, Najib will get his pardon and will not serve his full 12 years in prison or even two-thirds of it (one-third discount for good behaviour). Whether or when he gets a royal pardon will depend on who is the government of the day. For now, neither Prime Minister Ismail Sabri nor the majority of UMNO warlords wanted to commit suicide with the coming 15th General Election.
We believe a full pardon at this stage would be perceived as premature as Najib was still facing numerous charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
“A dangerous precedent would be set if a royal pardon is granted in this case, as it will appear that those who held powerful executive positions in the past and are facing similar criminal charges before the courts are above the law or beyond reproach.
Getting jailed by former prime minister Najib Razak for a royal pardon would make a mockery of the judiciary and will make international bodies and investor question and have doubt about our system.
DISCLAIMER: Air Times News Network is not responsible for opinions expressed through this article. It’s the columnist’s personal view and doesn’t necessarily reflect our stance.