Zaid: Govt fails to satisfy anyone in Najib’s sentence reduction

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Reduction in Najib’s sentence will damage Malaysia’s international standing and image.

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim today said many “unanswered questions” surrounding a Pardons Board decision to reduce Najib Abdul Razak’s prison term and fine has led to unhappiness across all parties.

Speaking to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, Zaid claimed the government had failed in its supposed attempt to appease all quarters, including those seeking Najib’s immediate release.

“The Pardons Board’s decision is unsatisfactory to either party.


“For those who wanted to see Najib in jail for 12 years and for us, including me who believe he should be granted a full pardon,” said Zaid when met after a book launch today.

“The government tried to appease both parties. And so, this is the problem,” said the veteran lawyer.

Commenting further, Zaid Ibrahim said he believed the decision should have been made in accordance with Najib’s original application for a royal pardon, filed in September 2022, after he was convicted.

“If Najib had requested for a full pardon, the decision should either be a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.

“And if he had requested a reduced sentence, of course, that is also possible,” he said.

Meanwhile Lawyers for Liberty said the reduction in Najib’s sentence will damage Malaysia’s international standing and image.

Its director Zaid Malek said in a statement this is because the 1MDB corruption scandal was a global news event that involved corrupt transactions in multiple countries.

“Its immediate effect is that this current government has suffered a devastating loss of moral authority,” he said in a statement.

Zaid Malek said then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who chaired the Pardons Board then, had only acted on advice tendered to him.

He referred to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s statement on Najib’s pardon that he respected the decision of the then Agong and that the Agong decided to reduce the sentence after listening to the Pardons Board.

“He clearly suggests that it is the Agong’s decision,” he said.

He said Anwar was attempting to pass the final responsibility for the reduction of Najib’s sentence to the Agong, and that the prime minister’s remark constitutionally wrong.

“The responsibility for this pardon lies squarely upon the federal government, and not the Agong who as a constitutional monarch, acts upon advice tendered to him,” he said.

He said the power of pardon is exercised by the Agong upon the advice of the Pardons Board for the federal territories as per Article 42 of the Federal Constitution.

“By virtue of Article 40(1A), whenever the Agong is to act in accordance with advice, the Agong ‘shall accept and act in accordance’ with that advice,” he said, adding that the Agong has no discretion in the matter.

He referred to case laws that have revealed that the royal prerogative of pardon is not justiciable in court, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Agong is bound to act on the Board’s advice.

He said it was unusual for Anwar to say that Najib can appeal further to the Pardons Board against his reduced sentence.

“Why does the prime minister have to make such a statement, which is premature and up to the prisoner and his legal counsel to decide upon?” he asked, adding that this may lay the basis for a further reduction or possibly, a full pardon.