BY UMSU PRESS
Melodrama and Controversies
The independence of the judiciary in Malaysia just withheld a rather unprecedented test recently. During Datuk Najib Razak’s final SRC International appeal hearing, an application of recusing the Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat from hearing his case was made by the former prime minister's lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik. The application entailed a Facebook post by Tengku Maimun's husband, Datuk Zamani Ibrahim on May 11, 2018.
The Facebook post touched on the Barisan Nasional's (BN) defeat in the 14th General Election (GE14) as well as Datuk Zamani Ibrahim’s rather personal opinion over the former prime minister’s leadership. Thus, it was claimed that due to their spousal relationship, Tengku Maimun could have been unconsciously influenced by the sentiments. Nonetheless, the application was rejected and Tengku Maimun clarified that her husband’s Facebook post four years ago had no nexus to the SRC case.
Similarly, the Federal Court rejected Datuk Seri Najib Razak's application to introduce new evidence, which the former prime minister hoped would help him clear his name in connection with the SRC International conviction. The Supreme Court's decision has dealt a significant blow to the former prime minister's efforts to obtain a retrial or overturn the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to convict and sentence him to 12 years in prison and an RM210 million fine for misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International.
According to Tengku Maimun, the judges agreed unanimously that the defence had failed to meet the threshold and that it was irrelevant to the charges against Najib. Tengku Maimun said the panel also disagreed that there would be a miscarriage of justice if the application was dismissed.
Ultimately, the Federal Court upheld the decision of the High Court in 2020 of sentencing Datuk Seri Najib to 12 years of imprisonment and fined RM210 million due to guilty conviction on charges related to a multi-billion dollar graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Umno division chiefs had allegedly demanded the prime minister's intervention in deferring Datuk Seri Najib Razak's ongoing final appeal on his SRC International conviction. A couple of key requests were made by Umno leaders during a closed-door meeting at the party headquarters presided over by president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. According to reports, the leaders pleaded with Ismail Sabri to use his influence to obtain a three-month extension from Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat for Najib to hire new legal counsel. Alongside their request for a trial extension, the Umno division leaders reportedly asked Ismail Sabri to put pressure on Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun to move on with the investigation into judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to request a royal pardon to free former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak following the submission of a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to request royal intervention in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's corruption conviction.
Syed Mohammad Imran Syed Abdul Aziz, the president of Pertubuhan Jalinan Perpaduan Negara Malaysia, insisted that Ismail Sabri must submit the pardon application and that the royal pardon must be granted immediately by the monarch. In order to avoid the public perception that the government is cruel, he pleaded with the prime minister to submit the application to the king.
Approximately 300 Datuk Seri Najib’s supporters gathered outside the palace with the NGO to ask Yang di-Pertuan Agong to grant the former Umno leader a royal pardon. Najib is now serving a 12-year term after the Federal Court affirmed his SRC International Bhd conviction yesterday.
On the flip side, the members of the opposition party rejoiced over the Federal Court's decision to uphold Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 12-year prison sentence for his shameful past as prime minister.
Klang MP Charles Santiago praised Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and the five-member panel for upholding rule of law and independence of the judiciary. According to him, history will remember the five-member bench, it will also not forget the unscrupulous behaviour of Najib Razak’s lawyers, who abused the court process to buy time,” he said, adding that they must be investigated for judicial misconduct.
The outcome of today's judgement, according to PKR's Fahmi Fadzil, is credited to GE14 voters. His tweet on Twitter mentioned that, "Today is for all those who sacrificed to bring the truth to light. Today is for all those who voted for change in GE14. Today is for all those who want a better Malaysia”.
What’s Next For Najib
It is important to note that Datuk Seri Najib Razak may not necessarily serve the whole 12-year sentence imposed by the courts. His imprisonment could be shortened due to prison rules governing prisoners who show good behaviour. The years that he must spend in prison could also increase, if he does not pay the hefty fine of RM210 million.
The explanation could be found in Section 283(1)(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code which deals with instances when a convicted person has to pay up a fine to avoid jail time from growing longer. As stipulated in Section 283(1)(g), the fine may be paid within six years of the length of the sentenced imprisonment; however, if the sentenced imprisonment is more than six years, the payment may be paid prior to the end of the complete sentence period. One will be required to serve a default sentence if the fine is not paid. In other words, if a person receives a sentence of six years or fewer in prison and a fine, he or she can avoid serving the mandatory jail time (or additional years in jail) by paying the fine within that time frame.
If a prisoner receives a sentence that includes both a fine and a jail term longer than six years (like Najib's 12 years), he is required to pay the fine before the end of the current sentence (before the end of 12 years in Najib's case) in order to avoid serving an additional sentence of imprisonment. However, if Najib's 12-year sentence were to be reduced when he was still halfway through serving it, he would be required to pay the fee "before he completes the entire sentencing following remission. Or, to put it another way, Najib would have to make a payment before the end of the eight years since a one-third deduction would shorten the 12-year term to eight.
Disclaimer: The article is merely an academic discussion to express the point of view towards the said issue.
Written by Secretariat of Current Affairs 2022/23 👉
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