KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 3): The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has today questioned why Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to the Pardons Board was given priority over others who were still awaiting their turn in prison.
The electoral reform group’s steering committee said the decision to reduce Najib’s sentence will nevertheless have a significant effect on public confidence towards the justice system as the move would portray two different sets of laws for commoners and those above them.
“The country cannot send a signal that political leaders found guilty and convicted of an offence could take shortcuts to free themselves from punishment,” it said in a statement here.
Citing the Federal Court’s decision to uphold Najib’s prison sentence and conviction for the misappropriation of RM42 million from a former 1MDB unit in 2022, Bersih said the country’s highest court’s decision served as a clear finding of Najib’s criminality.
“Thus the Pardons Board must explain their grounds since Najib’s wrongdoing involves the misappropriation of millions of ringgit,” it said.
Bersih also renewed its demand that the government and the Attorney General’s Chambers no longer seek conditional acquittals for politicians charged with crimes pending legislative amendments on the role separation of the Attorney General (AG) and Public Prosecutor.
Yesterday, the Federal Territories Pardons Board announced that Najib’s prison sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million from a former 1MDB unit will be reduced by half while his fine will be cut from RM210 million to RM50 million.
The decision meant Najib, who began serving his prison term in August 2022, would be released by 2028.
He is likely to be released even earlier than that as he would be eligible for parole on good behaviour after serving just two-thirds of the six years.
In the official statement on behalf of the Federal Territories Pardons Board, the Prime Minister’s Department’s Legal Affairs Division as the board’s secretariat said this decision was made following the January 29 meeting of the Pardons Board for the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
It said the Pardons Board meeting, which was chaired by then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, had considered five pardons applications including the one from Najib.
Under the Federal Constitution, the Agong chairs the meetings of the Pardons Board for the federal territories, which comprises the attorney general, the Federal Territories minister, and a maximum of three other members appointed by the Agong. — Malay Mail