Najib’s addendum house arrest ‘order’: Govt must clear air regarding Ahmad Zahid’s claim

Najib’s addendum house arrest ‘order’: Govt must clear air regarding Ahmad Zahid’s claim
"Najib’s addendum house arrest ‘order’: Govt must clear air regarding Ahmad Zahid’s claim"

The government must clear the air following reports of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s claims of the existence of an addendum order from the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, allowing Datuk Seri Najib Razak to serve the remainder of his prison sentence under house arrest.

Former Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir Bhaskaran said the government owes the public an explanation, as it has a representative from the government sitting on the Pardons Board.

“The Federal Territories Minister (Dr Zaliha Mustafa) sits on the Pardons Board, and as such, the government is duty-bound to answer to the public,” said Salim.

On Wednesday, the New Straits Times reported that Zahid, who is also Umno president, had claimed that the addendum order was shown to him by former Selangor Umno treasurer Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz (who is also Investment, Trade and Industry Minister) at the former's house near Country Heights on Jan 30.

Ahmad Zahid said this in his affidavit of support dated April 9 in Najib’s judicial review application to compel the government to produce the impugned document.

Ahmad Zahid had claimed that Tengku Zafrul had shown him a copy of the addendum order on his phone, which he had personally photographed or scanned from an original copy, as shown to him by Al-Sultan Abdullah.

It was also reported that Ahmad Zahid claimed he had sighted the addendum order, dated Jan 29, which bears the seal and signature of the then King.

On Wednesday, Tengku Zafrul said he would file his own affidavit following Ahmad Zahid’s affidavit in support of Najib’s application to commence judicial review in relation to the alleged royal addendum.

The Investment, Trade and Industry Minister said that he would be obtaining legal advice and looking to file an affidavit to correct certain factual errors contained in the deputy prime minister’s affidavit.

In 2022, Najib became the first Malaysian prime minister to be convicted and sentenced to jail for abuse of power and corruption.

Najib’s final bid to appeal his July 2020 conviction by the Kuala Lumpur High Court was set aside after the Federal Court upheld the High Court’s conviction and sentence on seven charges of abuse of power, money laundering, and criminal breach of trust over the misappropriation of SRC International’s funds.

On Feb 2, the Pardons Board announced that Najib would receive a 50 per cent reduction in his sentence. This means that he will be released on Aug 23, 2028, instead of 2034, and will have to pay a fine of RM50 million, instead of the earlier RM210 million.

In the event he fails to pay the fine, another year will be added to Najib’s jail term, and he would only be released on Aug 23, 2029.

The board met on Jan 29 and the meeting was chaired by the Al-Sultan Abdullah.

Salim said while the general pardons process in Najib’s case had been subscribed to thus far, he acknowledged that the claims of an alleged addendum was rather unusual.

“Generally, in other cases, such things do not happen, and the decision by the Agong or Pardons Board, is accepted (by those seeking a pardon). But in this situation, there is a claim (filed by Najib) that there had been an additional order that had not been implemented.

“While there are case laws in which state pardons are not subject to judicial review, what is being asserted here is that there was a decision (made by the Agong) which had not been presented to the public, and as such, is not fair to the accused person.

“How they (Najib and his counsel) came about such evidence, we do not know. We are all in the dark as to how they came to know about the addendum.

Asked if the recent developments in the case had cast a negative perception on the entire pardons process, Salim said: “It is not for us to decide. It is for the court to decide on whether there is an addendum, and to direct the parties to bring them forward.”

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