KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim urged calm on Monday (Feb 5) as he defended a move to reduce the jail sentence for disgraced former leader Najib Razak, amid a growing backlash from critics who said the decision could jeopardise anti-corruption efforts.
A pardons board chaired by Malaysia’s king before he ended his reign last week halved a 12-year jail sentence and cut fines for Najib, who is imprisoned for graft and money laundering related to the scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The board did not give a reason for its decision.
Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing. His family has said he was disappointed by the ruling, having hoped for a full pardon and immediate release.
The sentence reduction comes amid accusations that the premier is backsliding on promised reforms, after prosecutors last year dropped corruption cases against Najib and other leaders linked to the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), which partnered with Anwar to form a government in November 2022.
Anwar said on Monday the king’s decision to commute Najib’s sentence was final and that the monarch was not obliged to provide an explanation, adding that it was “a matter of compassion”.
“We understand that people have strong views. So, we give a little leeway but after explanations are provided, it should stop,” Anwar said at a gathering of civil servants.
Anwar also admitted submitting Najib’s application for a royal pardon to the board for discussion, though he denied doing so under pressure from UMNO.
“I said as soon as I receive any appeal, I requested that the pardons board discuss it,” he said.
Source: Channel News Asia