MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

10 reasons why Najib must not, and cannot, be pardoned

Imagine for a moment that a person has been tried and convicted of rape. And he has a plethora of other rape cases pending, some even more severe and serious than the one for which he was found guilty.

Despite overwhelming evidence against him, the rapist maintains his innocence and despite the conviction, denies the crime and takes a vow in the mosque that he did not do it. But the rapist was the former prime minister and remains a strong political figure.

Does he deserve to be pardoned or have a pardon considered? Almost everyone will say no.

Yet for an offence of the theft and laundering of RM42 million by abusing his power and trials ongoing of charges involving RM2.3 billion - over 50 times the original RM42 million - key Umno leaders and some members of Umno would like to see him pardoned.

What kind of madness is that? What would cause otherwise normal people to campaign for such an insane move by the king, who is constrained by the recommendations of the Pardons Board in his decisions?

The only reason for this demonstration of mass insanity over the weekend is self-interest. The corrupt are asking for the most corrupt person ever to walk in Malaysia to be freed so that he and they can continue in their nefarious ways, milking the nation and its people of billions yearly.

Umno president wipes his tears at Umno’s special briefing on Saturday

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi shed tears last weekend ostensibly for Najib Abdul Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor and children. But it is for himself that he is weeping, facing multiple charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust, just like Najib.

Partners in crime

If Najib is pardoned - this cannot happen as we will explain - then the chances of Zahid getting a pardon increases. Remember, a lot of Umno top leaders are partners in crime. Many of them received millions into their accounts.

There were reports they got as much as RM3 million for each division for them to dispose of as they saw fit from Najib with no transparency and accountability. It was as if the money was their own.

Remember too, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan admitted receiving RM1.1 million from Najib after paying a compound of a like amount to avoid money-laundering charges.

And so unsurprisingly, Najib will have thousands of supporters within Umno for his pardon, those who benefited from money illegally obtained. But he does not have broad public support as shown by the meagre number of supporters at his final sentencing - estimated at 300. Most people want him behind bars because he stole millions and is charged with stealing billions of public money.

That Federal Court decision has the potential to impede an entire system, a system allowed and fostered by Umno, especially over the decades since Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ascendancy to power, to make billions for politicians through corruption - there is no other way to describe it.

It started as fundraising for elections, providing money for political campaigns. But it morphed into one of the worst kinds of corruption through the inflation of contracts and/or providing lucrative contracts to businesses and individuals sympathetic to the government in return for funding without transparency or accountability. Much of the funds went into personal accounts and pockets.

Convicted former PM Najib Abdul Razak at the Federal Court

The decision imperils the illegal high living of hundreds if not thousands of Umno politicians who are serviced by billions of ringgit syphoned off through contracts and something pioneered by Najib - theft of borrowed funds from government-owned entities through illegal and complicated movements of money.

In addition to the 1MDB scandal, we have too the littoral combat ships (LCS) scandal, a RM9 billion contract where RM6 billion has been paid but not even one of the six ships has been delivered.

Halt the gravy train

The Federal Court decision has the ability if other branches of government such as the MACC and the Attorney-General’s Chambers do their part by bringing criminals to court to stop all these shenanigans in their tracks and for the gravy train to be halted in their tracks and the gravy returned rightfully to the people.

That is why sections within Umno, especially those who have had a surfeit of feeding at the gravy train, are quaking in fear - not only will their massive illegal income suddenly cease, they may even go to jail for their greed and corruption in times past. That must shake them to their very core.

For those who still remain unconvinced that Najib will stay in jail without a pardon, here are 10 reasons to change their mind. The rest of us must vocally support Najib’s incarceration so that the impossible does not become possible through nefarious means putting us in a situation from which a return is near impossible. We must push home the advantage we have towards better governance or lose it completely.

Here are our 10 reasons. I am sure you can find more.

1. He was only just sentenced

Why even talk about a pardon when he has been sentenced after a fair trial and has his guilt affirmed by nine senior judges, all of whom found him guilty as charged and sentenced?

2. He has not served enough of the sentence

By convention, one is supposed to serve a significant amount of time in jail before a pardon is considered. This was the case with two former Umno strongmen, Harun Idris, who was charged for corruption, and Mokhtar Hashim, who faced life imprisonment on a murder charge.

3. He has other, more serious cases pending

He has an RM2.3 billion case pending. The charges basically allege that this was money from 1MDB which was channelled into his account and then redistributed. There are four charges of abuse of power and 21 charges of money laundering. They amount to among the largest theft of money in the world, a dubious distinction we don’t desire.

4. He is not contrite

On the contrary, he has not only maintained his innocence, he has said that there was an orchestrated conspiracy against him and cast serious aspersions not only on the trial judge but the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

5. He has shown no sign that he has reformed

He shows no remorse and regret for his actions and maintains his innocence against the weight of evidence. That merely reinforces the belief that he would continue with lies and deception and does not deserve to be pardoned. Key considerations for a pardon are contrition, remorse and reform, none of which Najib exhibits.

6. He does not have other redeeming characteristics

True, he was prime minister but what has been clearly demonstrated by the SRC International case is that he abused the power of his office, both as prime minister and minister of finance to channel RM42 million from SRC into his account. Not only that, he removed and replaced those in a position to make investigations and bring him to book and used the weight of the law against those who dissented. That he was even charged was because of a change in government.

7. It will make a mockery of the justice system

To allow a pardon now because of pressure from conflicted politicians will be to thwart the long process of justice which resulted in a guilty result for Najib. This involved nine reputable judges - the trial judge, three Court of Appeal judges and five Federal Court judges - who unanimously found him guilty and affirmed the conviction and the sentences. It is definitely far-fetched to say that all of them were influenced by Najib’s so-called conspiracy.

8. Najib has lied and deliberately misrepresented the case

A pardon will mean that the system has given way to deliberate misrepresentations and lies to the Malaysian public by Najib and his lawyers, a situation which must not be allowed for it will mean that justice will be denied in this case. Najib has repeatedly played to the gallery without addressing the weight of evidence against him.

9. It will set a bad example to others

A pardon will set a bad example for the corrupt who face numerous other charges. The message that must be sent is that the judiciary is the last line of defence for all accused persons. After that, nothing must be allowed to circumvent the sentence.

10. The notion of equality before the law will be destroyed

It is important to show that equality before the law is maintained. Najib has to follow the protocol if he is to be pardoned. He has received a fair trial and has been found guilty. He must now serve his sentence and finish the other trials before he can even think of applying for a pardon.

Any attempts to circumvent due process by succumbing to political pressure by conflicted persons must be strongly resisted and the possibility of instituting contempt proceedings against those doing so must be examined and seriously considered.

We are a constitutional monarchy with laws, rules and regulations that requires the judiciary not only to be independent of the executive, which is the government in this case, but to any political pressure. That also applies to any other institutions which have been tasked with upholding the law, which includes the various pardon boards in the country.

The ultimate weapon is the ballot box and all Malaysians must use this judiciously to firmly and unambiguously reject any political party whose stated aim is to resort to extrajudicial means to push through measures which benefit a relative few.

Umno, or Umno Baru as it should be known, simply does not cut it. - Mkini

P GUNASEGARAM, a former editor at online and print news publications, and head of equity research, wrote ‘1MDB: The Scandal that Brought Down a Government’, the first book to be written on the topic.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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