pic by TMR FILE
AN OPINION was put forth that by any count, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) had been pardoned by the King. It came about after Najib, obviously with much glee, uploaded pictures of him with the King at the palace’s Hari Raya do.
The opinion was not a baseless assumption, as in the tradition of Eidul Fitri, any visitor to another’s open house, in this case Najib, would have taken the opportunity to seek forgiveness from the host, and in this case the King, for all his or her past misdeeds.
In the spirit of Hari Raya, the host, in this case the King, would have obliged.
Unfortunately for Najib’s fans, such pardons are only festive conventions minus the force of law.
Fortunately for the rest for the country, who feel strongly about Najib’s crimes and find them unforgivable, Najib would still have to go through the whole judicial processes and only after being incarcerated can he file for the Royal pardon.
In other words, despite securing the festive forgiveness from the King during the Hari Raya meet, Najib will still have to fight it out at the Federal Court for his final appeal to overturn the earlier High Court and Courts of Appeal which had found him guilty for his crimes and sentenced to 12 years’ jail plus a RM210 million fine.
But these discussions of assumptions and perceptions, should not have even cropped up but the presence of a convicted felon at the palace is bound to spark them.
While the King is not restricted in whoever he wants to allow to come to his palace during the Hari Raya, invited or otherwise, the presence of someone who had been found guilty by four judges from the High Court and Courts of Appeal is bound to send out distressing messages.
The crux of the matter is simple — Najib is not merely being accused — he has been found guilty and having his last throw of the dice at the Federal Court.
His is not a case of being innocent until proven guilty but rather he had been found guilty and now trying to prove his innocence.
There are opinions that based on other conventions, when other individuals are being tried, on bail or found guilty and awaiting appeal from a higher court, they would be asked to go on leave and all their privileges stripped or suspended, only to be re-instated if they were successful in their appeal.
Hence demands that the Malay Rulers, the King included, to strip or withdraw Najib of all the honorifics he had received and only to be re-instated if he wins his appeal. In fact, at least one Malay Ruler did just that.
That is the expectation, and such an expectation is placed upon all those in the positions of power, be they from the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and most of all, the institution of the Malay Rulers.
After all, Najib’s crimes are nothing but extraordinary.
He is not labelled as a plundering idiot by a foreign publication nor declared as a national embarrassment by judges of apex courts for simply stealing from a bank or a tin of milo.
His plundering was from public funds and they were by the billions and the trail led to several corners of the world and saw a bank of historical repute collapsing and an international investment body fined also by the billions for being complicit in Najib’s travesty.
Even reputable international accounting firms are not spared from the taint.
There are Malaysians who may dismiss Najib’s crimes as merely a case of some money missing from the kitty, crimes other political leaders had committed since the nation’s independence.
It is not the same as his crime had affected the nation’s economy and several next generation Malaysians will have to continue to pay. In other parts of the world, such crimes would be deemed treasonous.
Because of that, his presence at the palace and being royally feted on the High Table sends very confusing messages to the general public.
On one hand, esteemed judges and the venerated judiciary had publicly declared him as a national embarrassment, which in effect is a pronouncement of utter disgust for Najib’s crimes.
Then, on the other hand, the Royalty, a more venerated institution and held in a much higher esteem, chose to fete and regaled him allowing an unrepentant Najib to wallow in self-indulgence and self-vindication.
For context, Najib’s crime is not an err but an elaborate; a near ingenious scheme to plunder the people of Malaysia of funds meant for their future and retirement.
And there’s nothing divine in forgiving such.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.
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