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Lawyer says Agong acts on advice of Pardons Board, including PM, ahead of fresh bid for Najib's freedom

Zainur Zakaria says the prime minister and other members of the Pardons Board will ultimately decide what to advise the king.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
New efforts are underway for a royal pardon for former prime minister Najib Razak, who is currently serving a 12-year jail term. Photo: Bernama
New efforts are underway for a royal pardon for former prime minister Najib Razak, who is currently serving a 12-year jail term. Photo: Bernama

A senior lawyer has disagreed with a claim that the power of pardon is ultimately the sole discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, ahead of an audience by Umno to plead for the freedom of jailed former leader Najib Razak.

Zainur Zakaria, who was once part of Anwar Ibrahim's defence team, said the Agong was expected to act on the advice of the Pardons Board, which includes the prime minister.

"The YDPA (Agong) does not act as a court to review court decisions.

"The YDPA has no power and neither is it his role to review the decisions of the courts on the law and facts," said Zainur, believed to be in response to a claim by PKR MP Hassan Karim that the Agong would not need to listen to the prime minister or the Cabinet in granting a royal pardon to Najib. 

Hassan had said that as long as Anwar does not interfere in the process of pardon, there was no question of his administration's survival coming under threat in the event of Najib leaving jail. 

But Zainur said as a member of the Pardons Board, Anwar would be part of the decision-making process to advise the Agong on whether Najib should be granted a pardon.

Earlier today, Anwar said there was no conflict of interest despite his involvement in the process of considering a royal pardon for Najib. 

Some analysts had warned that the renewed bid for a royal pardon for Najib could spell trouble for Anwar's coalition government, formed last year after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi committed the 26 MPs from his party to back the PKR leader for the top office. 

They also pointed out that Najib's influence in Umno was stronger than that of Zahid, and that the outcome of the pardon process would ultimately affect the Umno president.

The Umno Supreme Council yesterday criticised last week's Federal Court decision dismissing Najib's bid for a review of his conviction in the SRC International case, for which he is currently serving 12 years at Kajang Prison.

The five-panel bench headed by judge Abdul Rahman Sebli had dismissed the review application in a 4-1 majority decision.

Abdul Rahman, the sole dissenting judge, however opined that it was wrong for the Federal Court panel headed by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat not to allow more time for Najib's newly appointed counsel to prepare for the final appeal in August last year.

Zainur meanwhile said it would not make sense for Najib's lawyer to use Abdul Rahman's view in future appeals.

"Why should the Pardons Board and the Agong take into account this sole dissenting judgment and reject the four majority judgments in considering Najib's petition?" said Zainur, a former vice-president of PKR's predecessor Parti Keadilan Nasional.