Royal Pardon Be Careful What You Wish For
Desperate to prolong his days as a free man, the convicted felon, Najib Abdul Razak, has requested a postponement in his SRC appeal hearing, but more importantly, he has denied that he would like a royal pardon. We know that the reality is, in fact, the opposite.
Najib has sought to portray himself as a victim of the corruption crimes, and has claimed that he wants to be tried fairly in court because that is 'the only way to clear his name'.
He dismissed the attempts of the NGO, Pertubuhan Sahabat Ulul Amri Malaysia (PSUAM), to seek a royal pardon for him. He denied that he had requested PSUAM to act on his behalf.
After both he and his lawyer had apparently employed various delay tactics to attend court, the rakyat are apprehensive. They are convinced that the delay can only mean one thing. A royal pardon is in the pipeline.
If the rakyat think this, then their faith in the judiciary is paper-thin. Who can blame them? The struggling poor, desperate to feed their starving children, may steal cans of food but are immediately hauled to jail, while white-collar criminals are not.
We could only stare in disbelief when told that Najib's crime is a bailable offence. Until his appeal process is exhausted, he is a free man. He travels extensively and tells everyone that he has been wronged.
So, despite Najib being tried, convicted, and sentenced to 12 years jail, fined RM210 million, and called a national embarrassment by the three Court of Appeal panel judges, who upheld his guilty verdict, the desperate Najib will convince the gullible of his innocence.
What would be the consequences of Najib receiving a royal pardon? Any right-minded, sane, and law-abiding person with half a brain will know that the message it gives will do a lot of damage to the country.
How will the rakyat react? Najib's supporters will be celebrating, but what about the average Malaysian?
Instead of reducing corruption, a pardon may encourage more bribery and crime because it belittles our efforts to eradicate graft and punish the wrongdoer.
A royal pardon will make Najib very happy, his party will be ecstatic, and he can probably resume where he left off - to continue being party leader, have another jab at being prime minister, and continue to plunder the rakyat's money. His enemies will fume and realise how powerless they are.
In 1MDB, Najib successfully ‘stole’ from the rakyat, but if he had a second go at taxpayers' money, he and his inner circle will be better equipped. He knows which pitfalls to avoid, which bits he must keep ultra-secret, which people to trust, and the precautions needed to prevent exposure. 1MDB and the trials were the test run.
Many people will wonder what will happen to his criminal past, in particular his charge sheet of corrupt undertakings. Is it wiped clean? Or is it stored somewhere safe, shrouded in secrecy? Will the history books portray him as a wronged man, who fought hard to prove his innocence? Or a conniving master-criminal?
The other group of people to breathe a sigh of relief will be corrupt politicians and civil servants, especially those whose crimes have not yet been exposed.
If it can be done once, then it can be done again and again. Najib's cronies, or any political crony, will also be happy. If the world's worst kleptocrat can pull off a royal pardon, surely other corrupt people can do the same. There must be a simple formula that Najib can share with them.
Time is money, and crooked businessmen, who are hampered by delays in obtaining relevant approvals for their businesses, will be delighted. Delays will eat into their profits, and if a palm can be greased to speed things up, they will do it. However, bosses of companies who diligently stick to the rules can only feel despair.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. The freed and pardoned Najib will find that it is more satisfying to take his time when punishing those who betrayed him and whose evidence helped convict him.
The judiciary must also be prepared for a backlash. When corrupt politicians are not sent to prison immediately after being sentenced, it makes people mistrust the judiciary and the authorities. They lose confidence in the legal system.
People go to work to earn a decent wage, but corrupt politicians who steal taxpayers' money will do much harm to society. There should be no delay in punishing the corrupt.
As a result of a pardon, the MACC should be disbanded. What's the point of an anti-corruption body if the guilty are then set free? The rakyat will also wonder why they bother to obey the law.
They will be furious at the waste of resources - hundreds of millions of ringgits spent on building a case against Najib, and thousands of man-hours on research for the trials, the lawyers and the court's time.
If the politician who steals is not made accountable, then who is? Are the people who set Najib free the ones who should be held accountable?
It is not just the reputation of the country which is at stake. There are no points for guessing why a distinct, select group of people may find that their futures might be irrevocably altered. - Mkini
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army, and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.
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