Najib’s guilty verdict: Restoration of judiciary must continue

Now is the time to re-emphasise the importance of an independent judiciary

Najib Razak - guilty on all seven charges

Today’s verdict in the SRC International trial finding Najib Razak guilty of all seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering is an important decision with far-reaching political implications.

The appeals court judges have upheld the exhaustive judgment of the High Court judge as well as the RM210m fine and 12-year jail term imposed on Najib.

Najib’s appeal to the Federal Court will probably take place next year. Meanwhile, he remains an MP but will not be able to contest in the general election.  

The verdict sends a powerful message to the corrupt: no one is above the law and crime does not pay. The guilty verdict on a former prime minister shows no one is untouchable and no one can escape scot-free. It is a timely message given the state of corruption in the country, where many appear to be living beyond their means.

The verdict goes some way in restoring trust in the courts that justice will prevail. But one swallow does not a summer make. It has been a long, hard journey to wipe out corruption, and many have already escaped.

Still, it is encouraging to see the judiciary making independent decisions. One heartening aspect of this trial was the meticulous judgment by the capable High Court judge that the Court of Appeal resoundingly affirmed.

Today’s verdict was widely followed, and the repercussions go well beyond the walls of the courtroom. Ordinary people, civil society, the business community and analysts alike were all following the outcome to see signs of hope in Malaysia.

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Hopefully, the judiciary will begin a process of restoration. The courts must remain strong and independent to withstand any pressure from vested interests.

Ordinary people should play a role in this process of restoration. There is much to build on. The public should be exceptionally vigilant against any outside interference in the courts by those with vested interests. One way to do this would be for ordinary people to vote for candidates and parties that pledge to implement judicial reforms in the coming general election.  

Indeed, today’s events give us some hope that we can continue along a path that upholds the rule of law. No one should be above the rule of law, which must apply to all, without double standards.

Ultimately, we need three strong branches of government at the apex to provide checks and balances:

  • An Executive that is competent, accountable and transparent (what the Umno-Barisan Nasional government under Najib Razak was not)
  • A vibrant Parliament elected through free, fair and bersih (clean) elections, along with parliamentarians who scrutinise proposed bills meticulously and who are ever vigilant in monitoring the attempted shenanigans of the Executive
  • An independent Judiciary well versed in the application and interpretation of the laws

We might have neglected the critical role of the judicial branch in the past. Now is the time to re-emphasise the importance of an independent judiciary and its consolidation.

Aliran executive committee
8 December 2021

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Ravimaran
Ravimaran
10 Dec 2021 5.05pm

Najib trial should be in good judgement

WKK
WKK
9 Dec 2021 9.04am

The Appellate court’s decision is not final, right, even though I do not know why it should not be as it, together with the High Court, has unequivocally found Najib guilty. Why does the Federal Court need to look over the two lower courts? It is not called to so-called break a tie had both lower courts disagreed on their judgment.

The message is the wealthy/powerful can have their appeal all the way. And they usually will be no more appeal when they won in the appellate court, as in Tengku Adnan’s case.

Who knows how the Federal Court will rule as the lower courts’ decision are never a guarantee. Until it rules, it is premature to say: The verdict sends a powerful message to the corrupt: no one is above the law and crime does not pay.

Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
8 Dec 2021 7.54pm

Other kleptocrats got away scot-free even though they were charged in court, let’s not forget.