The High Court today dismissed an application by Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to adjourn the SRC International trial for him to attend Parliament which began sitting today.
Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali held that there is no certainty when the MPs actually vote on two bills mentioned. The bills are on the declaration of assets by all MPs and the lowering of the voting age to 18.
“I am against the request for adjournment as the Parliament proceedings will go on for several weeks. It is not certain when the vote is on any of the two bills.
“It is not an issue of the court obstructing the accused from attending Parliament. The important point is that the accused MP is also facing seven charges that are the subject matter of today’s trial. So, I refuse the application for adjournment,” he said.
Najib, dressed in a blue suit, remained expressionless as he sat in the dock.
Earlier, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that his client needs to seek a one-day timeout today to attend Parliament.
Shafee said Najib wants to take part in the session as important bills, concerning the declaration of assets for all MPs and the lowering of the voting age to 18, will be tabled.
“My client has been charged and is on trial but he also has a duty to attend Parliament. He is not asking to be absent for the entire three weeks this case has been fixed for.
“All he is asking is a reasonable request to attend today’s session and also another session when the bill on lowering the eligible age of voters is tabled,” he said.
Shafee argued that there have been previous cases of MPs whose cases were adjourned when they needed to attend Parliament, such as the cases of the late Karpal Singh and also Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas objected to the request, saying an adjournment application should be considered on a case-by-case basis and this was the price an MP who is accused of a criminal charge has to pay.
“When an accused is in court facing a criminal charge, the law must be treated the same way the lady of justice is blindfolded with her scales,” he said, adding that MPs should not be given special treatment.
Thomas then pointed out that the trial was already going “so slowly” despite being a case of national and public importance.
“What we have is three days this week, and for next week Friday is exempted. We do not have every day in July as hearing,” he said, adding the trial only has 20 days of hearings this month.
“With respect, this is a poor reason. We have to give respect to the time given. Otherwise, members of the public will think why this trial is treated differently,” Thomas said.
The Attorney-General added that Najib can always attend Parliament after 5 pm.
“The Parliament sitting often drags until 9 pm sometimes and Najib could always go there after his court case. There should be some form of court discipline to ensure that the trial progresses smoothly.
“The defence mantra has always been that they want to prove their case in court but they take every opportunity to seek an adjournment. This is a frivolous application and I object to it,” he said.
Najib, 66, is charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust, one count of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering involving SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.
The trial, which had been postponed after the last hearing on June 20, has entered its 30th day with 40 prosecution witnesses called to the stand.