Categories: News

Najib may seek full pardon after 1MDB jail term was halved

Former Malaysian leader Najib Razak is “seriously thinking” of applying for another pardon over his 1Malaysia Development Bhd-related convictions after his jail sentence was halved by the outgoing king, his lawyer said.

Najib deserves a full pardon as he had not been given a fair trial, Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. There is also a difference in wording between the pardon order, dated Jan. 29, and the official press statement issued by authorities, he said, without providing additional details.

Helmed by Malaysia’s previous king — who hails from the same state as Najib — the Pardons Board last week halved the former prime minister’s jail term to six years. The board also slashed his fines to 50 million ringgit ($10.5 million) from 210 million ringgit.

The 70-year-old former leader has yet to pay the fine, his lawyer said. While Najib is currently scheduled to be freed by Aug. 23, 2028, his jail term would be extended by another year if he fails to pay the fine, according to the board. 

The Pardons Board meeting last week was one of the final acts by Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, who ended his five-year reign as sovereign under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy last week to return as the ruler of Pahang state. Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, the head of Malaysia’s southernmost state, Johor, took the throne a day later, on Jan 31.

A full pardon would likely add to the growing disillusionment with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who came to power in November 2022 on an anti-corruption platform. He has sought to appease allies who helped him form a government after the election led to a hung parliament. Anwar’s coalition includes the United Malays National Organisation that was led by Najib when he was prime minister.

Anwar’s commitment to fight graft already came under scrutiny last year after the government withdrew 47 criminal charges against Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who now leads UMNO. Anwar has denied interfering in Zahid’s case.

Now, UMNO has vowed to fight for Najib’s freedom. The next general election is not due until early 2028. 

Remaining Cases

Najib has maintained that he did not receive a fair hearing at Malaysia’s top court in 2022 as it did not grant his application to adjourn proceedings due to a last-minute change in his legal representation. 

Najib, who lost power almost six years ago, was convicted in 2022 on abuse of power and money-laundering charges in relation to the troubled state fund. He was accused of transferring 42 million ringgit from 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn. to his personal account between 2014 and 2015. 

He remains on trial for dozens of other criminal charges related to the wealth fund, which became the center of a multibillion dollar scandal that spawned probes across several continents. –BLOOMBERG

Dayang Norazhar

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