Najib Razak cannot and should not be allowed to attend the current Parliament session scheduled from 3 October to 29 November 2022. Any decision in that direction will make a mockery of his punishment and a laughing matter of his conviction.
Najib has been found guilty of corruption and convicted after a very lengthy and costly due process of law. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and fined a hefty RM210m as stipulated by law.
His prison sentence was meant to be a punishment for his felony and it was meant to be served in prison. The law doesn’t allow any part of his imprisonment to be spent outside prison walls. It is a mandatory sentence and it has to be fully served in prison, just like any other criminal who has been sent to prison.
The punishment is meant to serve as a deterrent to discourage the criminal from involving himself in similar crimes on being released. It is also meant to send a clear warning to others that crime doesn’t pay!
There is nothing special about Najib compared to other criminals. Just as the others cannot leave the prison to attend to their duties in business activities, for example, Najib has to live with this reality. He has to spend the next 12 years behind bars unless he secures a pardon anytime from now.
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Supposing a managing director of a company was found guilty of corruption, fined, sentenced and imprisoned, can he seek permission to attend board meetings, the shareholders’ annual general meeting or his daily business chores? Going by Najib’s rationale, he can. He certainly can seek such permission – just as Najib is vainly trying to do – but that request need not be entertained. There is no such provision in the law. There is no law to vary the prison sentence to enable the criminal to attend to his business.
It is commonly understood that the prison sentence must be fulfilled to the full extent, unless at some point during the prison term, the criminal seeks pardon and is granted a remission according to adjectival and procedural law. Otherwise, he is required to serve the full term.
Now Najib is going to court to get permission to meet his political aides and assistants in order to serve his constituents. Is he required to serve his constituents while serving a prison term? Is there a law compelling him to do so? Again, there is no such provision in the law.
What happens to constituencies when an MP dies? If the remaining term of office is less than two years, the law doesn’t require a by-election to choose an MP to serve this electoral district. The party whose MP had died will make its own arrangements to service that ward. Or other parties may move in to serve in order to stake a claim when the elections come around.
Umno should look after Pekan during Najib’s absence. It has the means and resources to provide the necessary services to the electors there. It has the capacity and the reason to do so – ie the hope of retaining the seat in the next election.
So Najib doesn’t have any cogent, coherent or compelling reason to seek the court’s permission to service Pekan. I hope the court will dismiss this application – it is the only reasonable decision for the court to take.
Najib has to serve his full prison term behind prison bars and not anywhere else – not in Parliament, not in Pekan. That sentence must not be shortened or interrupted in any way and should run its full course as it was meant to be.
This episode reminds me of a saying that goes something like this: “I’m no psychiatrist, but I’m fairly certain the subject suffers from an over-inflated sense of self-importance.”