QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER LARGE DISCOUNT OFF FINE, PAROLE
The Pardons Board’s official statement, however, has raised some new questions.
It noted that Najib’s RM210 million fine – like his prison sentence – would be halved, but put the new penalty at RM50 million, which is a discount of over 75 per cent.
The Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) later issued a statement to clarify that the new penalties are accurate, without addressing why the error in the language was made in the first place.
Sunway University political scientist Wong Chin Huat said it could have been a typographical error.
“My first reading is that it was probably poor writing – that the 50 per cent (reduction) was meant to cover only the jail term. It would be interesting if this reveals fingerprints of negotiations, but I won’t speculate,” he told CNA.
The Board’s statement made no mention of parole for good behaviour that would allow Najib to get out even earlier than the new release date.
Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan believes the Board omitted this to avoid overstepping the authority of new king Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, who would have to appoint members of the parole board.
“I think that’s the reason why parole was never mentioned, but there is a possibility for (Najib to be released earlier on) good behaviour,” he said.
Also absent from the statement were the Board’s reasons for its decision.
While it is not legally required to disclose how it arrived at this outcome, politicians, lawyers and civil society have called for the grounds to be made public.
“Transparency is required politically, even though not legally. If the public cannot be convinced that Najib is a new man deserving a second chance, opaqueness will only amplify the public anger,” Dr Wong said.
Speaking to news outlet Al Jazeera after the Pardons Board released its statement, Mr Anwar said Najib’s ongoing court cases have to continue through an independent judicial process.
At the same time, Najib has the right to appeal to the new king if he is not satisfied with the outcome of his pardon application, Mr Anwar said.
“The process has to be respected, it’s beyond the prime minister or the government. I respect the decision of the then-king. Now, we have a new king,” he said.
“So whatever one feels – of course it’s very political; some support, some don’t – they cannot ignore the fact that you must respect the right of anyone convicted to appeal to the Pardons Board.”
Source: Channel News Asia