The question of a pardon for Najib has thrown up many queries and questions that require a critical look at these issues. This is an attempt to provide some answers.
Is Najib entitled to a pardon?
Obviously, he is! It is provided for. It is a constitutional entitlement. It is his right. You can’t fault him for this – fault the Constitution for providing him this escape route!
Is a pardon for Najib – who has been tried, convicted and sentenced – the right thing to do?
This is entirely a different thing. It depends on who you are. If you are his Umno supporter, you would root for his pardon. If you are someone concerned about right and wrong, you would oppose such a pardon.
Granting a person his right may not be the right thing to do in the circumstances.
Would pardoning him at this moment for his grievous crime against the state be grossly unfair?
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It would be so! The man has not shown any remorse, repentance or contrition for his foul deed. He goes around claiming he was politically persecuted, that he had done no wrong to be judged so harshly.
He has not repented to deserve any sympathy, clemency or mercy.
Under this constitutional provision, can Najib be immediately pardoned?
Apparently, he can be! There is a potential for a possible early pardon and that possibility is real. Nothing is stated about when that pardon can be granted. There is no time stipulation. There is no stated minimum time he has to serve in prison in order to be pardoned.
The constitutional provision compels the convicted MP to apply for a pardon immediately; it stipulates the timeframe for this application: within 14 days. Going by this provision, he could be pardoned sooner than one would expect if there is the political will to do so.
Why then has he not yet been pardoned?
It is simply because there is massive opposition to such a pardon. A vast majority of Malaysians strongly believe he should be severely punished for his crime against the state. This public sentiment cannot be ignored or set aside. It would be unwise to do so. There would be adverse repercussions and consequences that cannot be overlooked. A heavy price would have to be paid if this is not taken into account. It is this backlash that is feared and acts as a restraining factor.
This provision in the Constitution for a pardon accorded only to serving members of Parliament – isn’t that an affront to common sense?
Absolutely! Such a provision is available to all MPs, irrespective of the nature of their crime. It would mean, for example, an MP who has been convicted for murder can appeal for a pardon within 14 days of his conviction. There is no distinction against such an MP: whatever the crime, the MP is entitled to this privilege.
Isn’t it odd that all MPs, despite their crimes, are entitled to seek a pardon immediately following their conviction? Isn’t it a mockery?
It is certainly a mockery of the criminal justice system.
What is so special about a serving MP that he is entitled to be pardoned and his crime wiped off from the record? What is so special about MPs?
This is something that has not been explained or justified. This, it would seem, is the prerogative of Parliament!
Precedents have been quoted in the case of the Harun Idris, then a powerful Umno Selangor Menteri Besar who was convicted for corruption, and Mokhtar Hashim, an Umno minister who murdered a Negeri Sembilan Speaker in cold blood in 1982. They were only pardoned after having served three years of imprisonment. That, according to many, was a political pardon to release former Umno stalwarts. Their pardon was secured quite easily through political manoeuvres.
Such political intervention can’t and won’t be tolerated in Najib’s case. Public opinion will not take it kindly and Umno will be punished mercilessly if it has a hand in securing Najib’s pardon. It is such a risky business that Umno will not dare embark on such interference.
So, if the thinking is that Najib must serve at least three years before he is pardoned, why shouldn’t Najib come under the Prison Act, which covers all criminals without any discrimination?
It would be the only sensible thing to follow. There is no reason not to apply the Prison Act in the case of Najib. Isn’t he a convicted criminal? MPs are not exempted from the Prison Act.
Under the Prison Act, Najib can apply for a pardon like any other prisoner “as soon as practicable after his conviction”. His “second such petition shall be allowed” when he “has completed three years from the date of his conviction”. Thereafter, he can appeal once every two years.
Why the Constitution provides such a special provision for convicted MPs is something difficult to fathom. What is the rationale? Is it to cater to changes in the political climate? Is it really necessary?
It is an insult to our sense of fairness. As long as it remains as a constitutional entitlement to convicted criminals who are MPs, it makes a mockery of justice. Courts spend sometimes years on end, incurring costly expenses, after which a criminal is finally convicted. Following this, the sentence is dispensed. All this will come to naught if a pardon is doled out to an MP immediately after his or her conviction – which he is entitled to according to the constitutional provision.
Why then go through the court process when, in the end, it is rendered meaningless and serves no useful purpose? Why spend so much time and effort in futility? It doesn’t make any sense.
It would be an absolute embarrassment if the court findings and punishment were to be nullified through this pardon process in the case of Najib.
The only thing to do to get over this mockery is to amend the Constitution and remove this discriminatory constitutional provision that provides this special privilege to convicted criminals who are MPs. This deserves Parliament’s urgent attention.
There are, it is quite clear, a majority of MPs opposed to the granting of a pardon to Najib. These MPs should put pressure on the government to move an amendment to remove this provision that makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.
“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.” – Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws