According to Finance Twitter , After pro-UMNO local daily Utusan Malaysiaretracted and apologized over its fake news that the Pardons Board had granted Najib a royal pardon, the former prime minister’s desire to get an early release from prison was smashed to pieces. The issue was so toxic that not even the then-King Sultan Abdullah, despite his special relationship with Najib, wanted to free the crook.

But if a royal pardon is out of the question, why can’t the Anwar government or the Pardons Board, let alone the Palace, issue a statement to clear the air? The mystery deepens when none dares to spill the beans. Ministers keep telling the people to wait for the Pardons Board to announce its decision, whilst the Pardons Board keeps its mouth shut, and the King had gone back to Pahang.

It was as if they were trapped in a “Mexican standoff” – Anwar doesn’t want to be punished by the people, but can’t point fingers at the Pardons Board or blame the King. The Pardons Board doesn’t want to be in hot soup, but can’t blame the government or pass the ball to the King. The Monarch doesn’t want to be accused of abusing his power, but can’t say he was following the Pardons Board’s advice.

As all the parties kick the can down the road, dragging an official statement that annoys the anxious 30 million Malaysians, one thing is sure. There’s a consolation prize for Najib. The next best thing after a full royal pardon is a “partial royal pardon”. After Utusan prematurely – and deliberately – published the fake news, Singapore-based CNA (Channel News Asia) said that Najib’s 12-year jail term has been reduced to 6 years.

Worse, Najib’s RM210 million fines have also been reduced to an unspecified amount. Some rumours say the lucky crook receives as much as 75% discount. The reduction in jail sentence means Najib is expected to complete his sentence in August 2028. However, with parole for good behaviour, he could be out in August 2026 after serving two-thirds of the new jail term – just nice for him to contest the 16th General Election.

If true, PM Anwar and Sultan Abdullah – even Malaysia as a nation – will be a laughing stock. It was already a joke that Najib is entitled to parole if he behaves like a good boy. Exactly how do you measure his good behaviour anyway? Will the parole board check if he steals another RM2.6 billion from behind the prison? If Najib is qualified to receive a partial pardon even after stealing US$4.5 billion, then every thief should walk away free too.

On May 25, 2022, a 43-year-old mother was sentenced to 14 months in jail for stealing two packets of MILO worth RM73 in a supermarket in Terengganu. Why didn’t the Pardons Board and King Sultan Abdullah (who is known as a very kind and good-hearted monarch) pardon the poor mother for stealing to feed her children? Heck, unlike Najib, she did not steal money, just MILO.

In the same breath, former dictator Mahathir Mohamad and his sidekick Daim Zainuddin also deserve a royal pardon if they are found guilty of not declaring their assets. In fact, every convict currently in prison should demand that their jail term be halved, the same way Najib enjoys the privilege, otherwise it proves the existence of hypocrisy, injustice, abuse of power, double-standard and whatnot.

There could be “four reasons” why the government is pussyfooting. First, it does not know how to face the potential furious backlash from the people, especially its own supporters. How could Mr Good Guy Anwar, who has been foaming at the mouth declaring war against corruption and promising truckloads of reforms, suddenly cut short the jail sentence for Mr Bad Guy Najib?

Sure, the prime minister can scream till his face turned blue that he was not involved in the decision-making. But the people aren’t stupid. After all, it was the PM who revived the Federal Territories Ministry and appointed the useless former Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa to the portfolio, who in turn is a member of the Pardons Board (so that Anwar has the excuse to claim innocence).

Besides, Anwar’s newly appointed Attorney General Ahmad Terrirudin Mohd Salleh is also a member of the Pardons Board. Three other members of the board were appointed by the King. While the government keeps saying it was Sultan Abdullah’s sole discretion whether to pardon Najib, in truth, the King must act on the advice of the Pardons Board. Otherwise, why bother having the board meeting in the first place?

It’s not hard to understand why PM Anwar has to accommodate Najib’s request, regardless of the types of pardon. Najib’s faction in the Malays nationalist party UMNO could threaten party president Zahid Hamidi to withdraw support if Anwar, who depends on UMNO to lead the Unity Government, refuses to play ball. As far as Anwar is concerned, it’s a small price to pay.

Second reason – the decision to slash Najib’s jail term was not final. If the (previous) King had already decided to help his fellow Pahang royal elite, Anwar administration can simply put the blame on the monarch. Hence, there’s a possibility that the Pardons Board was pushing for a partial pardon for Najib due to political reason, but the royal house disagreed and refused to be the sacrificial lamb.

Third reason – Sultan Abdullah wanted to bulldoze the partial royal pardon for Najib Razak at the eleventh hour, but was strongly advised against it by the Pardons Board as it would backfire on Anwar administration. It was against the normal procedure to grant Najib such highly controversial privilege when he had barely served at least one-third of his sentence – 4 years – before any pardon can be considered.

It was already bad that despite being a convicted criminal, Najib Razak was invited to the Palace for a special dinner during Ramadan on April 18, 2022 – raising eyebrows that the King was ready to grant a royal pardon to the crook. Not only he was invited to dine and wine with Sultan Abdullah, the crook was seated at the high table alongside then-PM Ismail Sabri, who in turn seated next to the monarch.

That would lead to the fourth reason – intervention from the new King. There could be a clash of opinion between outgoing Sultan Abdullah of Pahang or the Pardons Board and incoming Sultan Ibrahim of Johor. It’s worth noting that on January 6, 2024, the Johor Sultan decreed that he would not grant any audiences until his inauguration as Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) on January 31.

It was both interesting and flabbergasting that Sultan Ibrahim had started asserting his authority as early as a month before his official inauguration. Essentially, the Sultanate of Johor – the most influential and the wealthiest among the 13 Malay Rulers – was sending a chilling message to the opposition that any attempts (such as the Dubai Move) to overthrow Anwar government will fail.

Crucially, it was also a pre-emptive message to Sultan Abdullah, Pardons Board or even Anwar administration not to make any harsh decision which could put the new King in a precarious situation. As the Johor Sultan prepares to replace the Pahang Sultan, he said in December 2023 that he would hunt all corrupt people during his 5-year term as the 17th King of Malaysia.

It would be a slap in the face of the new King if crooked Najib is granted a pardon before he could even warm his royal seat. Even though the monarch has an axe to grind with former premier Mahathir, as the representative of the Malay Rulers, he can’t be mocked and ridiculed for practicing hypocrisy and double standard – selectively pardoning Najib, but not Mahathir or Daim at a later stage.

More importantly, it would open the floodgate as Sultan Ibrahim must also entertain royal pardon requests from more crooks like former Prime Ministers Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri. Therefore, to be fair to everyone and to make life easier, the new King of Malaysia should and could scrap a partial royal pardon recommended for Najib Razak.

It’s worth noting that Anwar’s Cabinet has so far only discussed a request by Najib Razak for a royal pardon, but insisting that it has no authority to make any announcement – suggesting that it was “not a done deal” yet. None of the minister admits the requested royal pardon has been approved. It appears that the government was waiting for Sultan Ibrahim to make the final decision.

Source : Finance Twitter

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