Bersih has slammed the Pardons Board’s decision to reduce the jail sentence and fine imposed on former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
While acknowledging that the board had the power to offer a pardon, the electoral reform group said that the decision would affect the rakyat’s perception of the judiciary.
“Why was Najib’s case prioritised for consideration when many other inmates are waiting for a chance to be pardoned?
“The country cannot give a message that politicians who commit offenses and are found guilty for it can take ‘shortcuts’ to escape punishment, as though there are two sets of laws for the laymen and the elite,” the Bersih steering committee said in a statement today.
Yesterday, the Pardons Board announced that it had reduced Najib’s jail time from 12 years to six.
This means Najib would be released from prison on Aug 23, 2028.
In a meeting on Jan 29, the board also slashed the fine slapped on the former prime minister from RM210 million to RM50 million.
Elaborating, Bersih said the fact that the Federal Court upheld Najib’s SRC International conviction, his 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine showed that Najib had indeed “stolen” the country’s money.
“We see no need for a reduction in imprisonment or fine imposed. Thus, the Pardons Board is obligated to explain the reasons behind the sentence reduction as Najib’s crime involves millions of the country’s money.”
The group noted that it had previously launched an online petition to gauge the rakyat’s opinion on Najib’s pardon, and said the 150,000 signatures it gathered showed the overwhelming rejection of freeing Najib.
“Bersih would also like to reiterate our demand to the federal government and the attorney-general to stop applying for discharge not amounting to acquittals (DNAAs) in corruption cases involving politicians, pending the separation of the roles of AG and public prosecutor.”
(First published by Malaysiakini on 3 January 2024: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/695176)