We, members of G25, feel shocked by the decision of the Pardons Board to grant Najib Razak a 50% reduction of his 12-year sentence of imprisonment and a substantial reduction of his fine from RM210m to a mere RM50m!
We feel so, in light of the gravity of the crime that Najib committed and the huge sum embezzled, ie RM42m.
We, in common with other civil society organisations, honestly feel that, given the circumstances of the case, the Pardons Board decision has unfortunately resulted in a travesty of the justice system.
As such, we respectfully request that the Pardons Board provides the public with a written reason for such a decision. Or, at the very least, furnish the public with the written opinion of the attorney general to the Pardons Board pursuant to Article 42(9) of the Federal Constitution.
Let us consider the facts. In July 2020, Najib was found guilty by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering of money belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd and one count of abuse of power.
He was sentenced to 72 years in jail for the seven charges. As they were concurrent, he was required by law to serve 12 years.
He was also fined RM210m. The fine remains unpaid.
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His appeal was unanimously dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
His appeal to the Federal Court was also unanimously dismissed by a panel of five judges.
His application for a review before the Federal Court was dismissed by a 4-1 majority.
A substantial amount of energy, time and resources was expended by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the office of the attorney general to investigate and prosecute Najib before the courts – from the High Court right up to the Federal Court – and to secure conviction.
Thirteen judges found Najib guilty of all the charges preferred against him.
In considering the reasonableness or otherwise of the Pardons Board decision, we also must not lose sight of the fact that Najib has only served 17 months of a 144-month sentence. He also has three other pending criminal cases.
One of these cases involves his receipt of some $600m (RM2.8bn) in his personal bank account. The trial of this case has spanned three years, with many prosecution witnesses having given evidence about Najib’s involvement in 1MDB affairs.
In another ongoing case, Najib and Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah are jointly charged with six counts of criminal breach of trust involving RM6.6bn of government funds in their capacity as finance minister and Treasury secretary general respectively.
Najib is also facing a tax recovery action case. The Inland Revenue is proceeding with its case to recover RM1.7bn in unpaid taxes.
In light of all these facts, we find it highly incredible that his sentences has been drastically reduced by the Pardons Board. All the more when Najib has not admitted his guilt, has not shown remorse and has not made any restitution of the money that he embezzled.
We fear the decision of the Pardons Board will create a bad precedent. And it will result in the justice system in Malaysia being the subject of ridicule internationally.
According to former attorney general Tommy Thomas, as a matter of convention, among the criteria for a pardon is that the prisoner, firstly, must have served one-third of his jail sentence before applying for pardon. Secondly, he must not have any other criminal cases pending.
In the case of Najib, he has yet to serve one-third of his jail sentence of 12 years. And he has other criminal cases pending.
However, we are told by an Umno supreme council member, Lokman Noor Adam, that he thanked Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for Najib’s early hearing
He is reported to have said: “We would like to thank the prime minister because by right, Najib’s pardon petition can only be heard by the Pardons Board after going through one-third of his sentence.
“But due to efforts by the president (Zahid) and raised by the prime minister, Najib’s petition was heard ‘early’ by the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.”
Now, why should the prime minister and Zahid be involved in fast-tracking Najib’s application?
Further, by fast-tracking Najib’s application for pardon before the Pardons Board, while there are many other prisoners in the queue waiting for their pardon applications to be heard, isn’t this being inconsistent with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which provides for equality before the law?
Shouldn’t Najib wait for his turn to have his application heard before the Pardons Board, like everyone else?
By virtue of Article 42 of the Federal Constitution, the power of pardon resides with the king.
As such, it is imperative that the power be exercised with dignity and wisdom. Irrelevant considerations must be cast aside.
The law is no respecter of persons. Justice must always be upheld no matter what. Those entrusted to uphold justice and the law must not on any account betray that trust.
We, in G25, earnestly hope that what has happened will never recur in the future.
Finally, in view of the above, and given the seriousness of the matter that will certainly affect the image and credibility of our nation, both domestically and internationally, we express our profound hope and expectation that the matter could be revisited at an early meeting of the Pardons Board to rescind the decision to grant Najib a partial pardon. – G25