PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak’s lawyer has dismissed a Channel NewsAsia (CNA) report that the Federal Territories Pardons Board (FTPB) will meet within this month to discuss the former prime minister’s application for a royal pardon.
Lawyer Shafee Abdullah said the board’s sittings are considered top secret with the identities of its variable members and dates of meetings not publicised.
“It is obvious, therefore, if the board were to assemble to consider Najib’s application for his pardon, the matter would be undertaken in secrecy as it is governed by the Official Secrets Act.
“We as Najib’s lawyers involved in the petition for his pardon have never been informed (consistent with all other cases) of the steps taken by the board (if any) pertaining to our client’s petition for pardon.
“We are therefore left dumbfounded as to how CNA has speculated this unfounded news. We do not know who are the unnamed sources that CNA had relied on for such a sensational story that has preoccupied the public and other press today,” he said in a statement.
Earlier, CNA quoted sources as saying that the the FTPB would meet in the third week of this month to deliberate on Najib’s pardon application.
It quoted anonymous “senior government officials” as saying the board determined that it needed more time to discuss the former Umno president’s application when it met last month.
CNA also quoted a “senior member of Najib’s inner circle” as saying that they felt “some degree of positive vibes” from the board concerning the application.
Shafee said the application was submitted in September 2022 before addendums to the petition were filed in October that year and in April 2023.
He added that they had not received any response to their application till the end of 2023.
“Our client was anxious about the petition’s status and directed us to remind the (government’s) legal affairs division on Dec 4 of the pending petition, considering that it had been filed more than 16 months ago and our client has been in prison for a year and four months.”
The lawyer reminded the public that Article 42 of the Federal Constitution provides the King with the “unbridled and unfettered” authority to grant pardons.
He warned that second-guessing the board’s actions would be disrespectful while breaches in the confidentiality of its affairs could infringe on the Official Secrets Act.
On July 28, 2020, Najib was convicted by Justice Nazlan Ghazali, then a High Court judge, for abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the SRC International case, involving funds amounting to RM42 million.
His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on Dec 8, 2021.
Najib began his 12-year prison term on Aug 23, 2022, immediately following the Federal Court’s dismissal of his final appeal.
On March 23, the apex court refused the former prime minister’s application for leave to have its decision in the appeal reviewed.
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