Malaysia's imprisoned ex-PM Najib retains MP status after filing for royal pardon

Due to his conviction, Najib Razak cannot contest Malaysia's next elections unless he is pardoned before then. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak - who is in jail for corruption - will remain a Member of Parliament pending a decision on his application for a royal pardon.

Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said on Monday that Najib, 69, filed for a royal pardon on Sept 1 through his lawyer, Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, and that the application was received by the Prime Minister's Department the next day.

But because of his conviction, Najib cannot contest Malaysia's next elections, due by September next year, unless he is pardoned before then.

Tan Sri Azhar's statement comes just one day after Najib was admitted to the hospital on Sunday due to a stomach ulcer.

Najib, however, attended court on Monday for one of his remaining four pending criminal trials - all related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. He is currently serving jail for a corruption case related to 1MDB.

Najib's lawyer, Mr Shafee, said on Monday that the former premier was doing "okay" despite being on medication. 

Najib's daughter Nooryana Najwa said in a social media post on Monday that she was hopeful that Najib would get consistent treatment from the prison authorities and hospitals if necessary. 

Najib would have lost his status as MP for the Pekan ward - which he has held for more than four decades - had he not sought a royal pardon within 14 days from the start of his 12-year jail sentence on Aug 23.

Mr Azhar said in a statement that Najib's status as an MP "does not change" until the outcome of his bid for royal pardon. That decision could take months or even years.

Recommendations for pardon are considered by the Pardons Board - comprising mainly members appointed by the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, who has the power to grant pardons.

Najib's bid for pardon also does not have any bearing on the other trials he is facing.

Last month, he lost a final appeal at the Federal Court against his conviction on seven charges regarding the misappropriation of RM42 million (S$13 million) from SRC International - a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

He began serving his 12-year jail sentence at Kajang Prison on Aug 23, and also has to pay a hefty RM210 million fine before the end of his sentence.

Najib is the first Malaysian ex-premier to be imprisoned.

The last time a high-profile politician was granted a pardon was in 2018 - when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was pardoned days after his Pakatan Harapan coalition scored an unprecedented win at the 2018 general election.

However, by the time of his pardon, Datuk Seri Anwar had served more than three years in jail over a sodomy conviction. He also previously spent five years - from 1999 to 2004 - in jail for corruption and sodomy.

On Sept 1, Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, was also convicted of corruption by the High Court for soliciting bribes in return for helping a solar energy firm secure a lucrative solar hybrid contract under the Education Ministry for hundreds of schools in Sarawak.

She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a record RM970 million in fines. But she remains out on bail while she exhausts her appeal at both the appellate and apex courts.

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