Board gave Agong wrong advice on full pardon for Anwar, lawyer tells court

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here was told today that the Pardons Board had wrongly advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in granting a full pardon to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who was jailed for sodomising his former personal assistant.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing lawyer Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, also said the composition of the board was not proper, therefore rendering its advice to the Agong invalid.

“In this issue, the one in the wrong is the Pardons Board and not the Agong. We are challenging the wrong advice given by the Pardons Board to the Agong under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution,” he said in his submission objecting to an application by Anwar and the board to strike out the suit by Mohd Khairul Azam.

Haniff said pardons could only be given for the purpose of terminating or suspending a sentence, not revoking a conviction decided on by the courts.

“If a conviction is revoked, it means we play the role of the court because only the court can hear (testimony and evidence) and make decisions,” he said.

Lawyer J Leela, representing Anwar, said the full pardon granted by the Agong could not be challenged in court and that the plaintiff had no locus standi or legal position to continue with the suit.

“The plaintiff’s suit is trivial, an embarrassment and an abuse of court process,” she said, adding that under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution, the Agong could quash a court’s conviction.

Senior federal counsel Natra Idris said she agreed with Leela on Article 42 of the Federal Constitution which allows the Agong to issue a pardon order for convictions.

Judge Akhtar Tahir set Sept 21 for a decision and ordered all parties to file their other arguments, if any, on or before Aug 21.

Mohd Khairul Azam, in his suit filed on Feb 26, claimed that the pardon granted to Anwar by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was in contravention of Articles 42 (4) and (5) of the Federal Constitution.

He said this in view of the fact that pardons granted by the Agong should be based on the advice of the Pardons Board which he argued had not yet been formed in its entirety following the 14th general election on May 9, 2018, and the formation of the new government.

Mohd Khairul Azam also claimed that following the election, several unconstitutional actions were undertaken to ensure that Anwar received a pardon releasing him from prison.

Anwar, who is Port Dickson MP, was sentenced to five years in jail for sodomising his aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015.