Senior lawyer: Agong has to act on advice of Pardons Board

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The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has to act on the advice of the Pardons Board, said senior lawyer Zainur Zakaria.

Responding to claims by Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim that the Agong has the final say on pardons, Zainur said this view was incorrect because the board exists to provide advice.

“Because the prime minister is a member of the Pardons Board, he will be involved in deciding whether or not to advise the Agong on whether to pardon Najib (Abdul Razak),” said Zainur.

Zainur was best known for acting as Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyer in the late 1990s and being among the founding members of PKR’s predecessor – Parti Keadilan Nasional.

Earlier today, Hassan had claimed that his reading of Article 42(1) and Article 42(5) of the Federal Constitution meant that granting pardons was the Agong’s sole prerogative.

Hassan made this argument in an attempt to dispel speculation that Anwar, now prime minister, was under pressure to ensure that the petition to pardon Najib succeeds.

Although Article 42(5) does not state that the prime minister was a member of the Pardons Board, Anwar is a member by virtue of being the de facto minister of the Federal Territories.

Anwar himself had confirmed this morning that he was “part of the process”. Like Hassan, Anwar told reporters today that the Agong had the sole prerogative in granting pardons.

Commenting on the plan by Najib’s legal team to use a dissenting judgment as part of the pardons petition, Zainur said this was illogical since the Pardons Board and the Agong cannot review decisions made by the courts.

“How can the Pardons Board and the Agong consider the dissenting judgement and ignore the majority judgments when considering a petition?

“The Pardons Board and the Agong neither have the power nor do they have a role in reviewing any court decisions.

“The prerogative of mercy is not exercisable based on the merits of the judgment of the courts, but other considerations,” said Zainur.

On March 31, Najib’s bid to review a Federal Court judgement to uphold his conviction was defeated in a 4-1 majority decision.

Dissenting judge Abdul Rahman Sebli argued that the Federal Court had previously erred by refusing to grant Najib’s new defence team an adjournment to prepare for the hearing. – Malaysiakini