Najib’s reduced sentence: Many questions linger

What does this say about our system of justice for political criminals?

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By jem

There was a prolonged ‘silence’ concerning Najib Razak’s pardon application result before it was finally announced.

Rumours spread after the federal territories minister, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, confirmed that the Pardons Board had met at the palace on 29 January. That was just days before the installation of the new king and queen from Johor.

Now that the announcement has been made, several questions linger in the minds of many. Why was the sentence reduced? On what grounds was it reduced? Who recommended this? Was the prime minister privy to the decision?

Whose advice and opinions were given that such a recommendation could be made? Were there petitions from other quarters (other than Najib) given to the Pardons Board for consideration?

Even if the Pardons Board is not obliged to inform the public why it made such a decision, the public has a right to know since it is such a high-profile and serious case.

It boggles the mind how a person who committed such egregious crimes is entitled to special treatment. Najib was imprisoned for criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering in the RM42m SRC International case.

So now, Najib Razak might be back on the political scene in August 2028 – if not August 2026 (if he is entitled to time off for ‘good behaviour’).

If Najib does not pay the reduced fine of RM50m, his prison term will be extended by a year to August 2029. We can all be sure that this amount is ‘chicken feed’ for Najib, and there will be no problem in getting that little amount paid.

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What does this say about our system of justice for political criminals?

In the media, Umno supreme council member Lokman Adam expressed his thanks to the Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim “who had played a role in Najib Razak’s pardon hearing”. He added that “due to efforts by the president and raised by the prime minister, Najib’s petition was heard ‘early’ by the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong”.

So, ‘congratulations’ to Anwar. The reduction in prison time for Najib will damage the PM’s reputation. From a national and international perspective, it will have far-reaching repercussions.

What then does this say about the “unity government” and the prime minister?

Anwar had claimed he was determined to root out corruption in government.

But now it feels like it doesn’t mean a thing, and it is just one of the many ‘to do’ items on his manifesto list. What a terrible disappointment for those who believed in him and his party during the 2022 pre-election campaign!

It also means that the verdict made by 13 judges to sentence Najib to a 12-year jail term has suffered a travesty. The latest outcome disrespects, demoralises and makes a mockery of the Malaysian judicial system. I would love to be a fly on the wall in their homes and listen to what they might be saying about this!

What then does this also say about corrupt politicians running our government? Will it set a precedent for other corrupt politicians? Get a pardon! It is so easy, they might think.

And what does this say about the government and the need to get corrupt public officials to pay for their crimes?

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Some analysts seem to think the outcome would be a boon for the Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional ruling coalitions at the next general election. “Bossku” (my boss) will be front and centre for Umno and this might even give PH a lift, as the PM would be perceived as having ‘assisted’ in getting the sentence reduced.

How this reduced sentence can be seen as a boon beggars belief! Then again, there are still many sympathisers who do not think that the plundering Najib did anything wrong. So, who knows, Umno-BN might rise again come the next general election, as “Bossku” will be back like a bad penny.

By the way, when the Pardons Board shortened Najib’s sentence did anyone think of Jho Low, Najib’s alleged accomplice in the 1MDB case (even though Najib is now saying he was duped), who is still at large?

Anwar recently went globetrotting, seeking foreign investments for the country.  

But what the Pardons Board has done could deter investors from coming to Malaysia for business ventures as it will be the ‘same old same old’ here. Why? Because the full brunt of the rule of law does not seem to apply to certain high-profile politicians in Malaysia, as can be seen with Zahid Hamidi’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal and now Najib’s much-reduced sentence.

What about the cases still pending against Najib? How does the Pardons Board decision affect those cases?

Will we see another pardon or conditional discharge? If it happens, should we be surprised?

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jem is the pseudonym of a regular reader of aliran.com

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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