Najib Razak Seeks Judicial Review Over Alleged Royal Addendum for House Arrest

Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak challenges house arrest order, claims supplementary royal decree allowed reduced sentence. Raises questions about elite influence and Anwar's anti-corruption efforts.

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Salman Akhtar
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Najib Razak Seeks Judicial Review Over Alleged Royal Addendum for House Arrest

Najib Razak Seeks Judicial Review Over Alleged Royal Addendum for House Arrest

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has filed an application for judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, challenging the existence of an additional royal decree that allegedly ordered his release from prison to serve the remainder of his 12-year sentence under house arrest. The court proceedings, held on April 17, 2024, were conducted in chambers due to the sensitive nature of the case.

Najib's legal team argues that the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) had issued a supplementary decree through official channels on January 29, 2024, allowing Najib to serve his reduced sentence under house arrest instead of confinement in Kajang Prison. However, the government has not acknowledged or enforced this alleged addendum order.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has filed an affidavit supporting Najib's claim, stating that he personally saw a copy of the addendum order, which bore the royal seal and signature of the former King. Zahid also mentioned that other government members, including the Pahang Menteri Besar and the Attorney General, have seen the order and confirmed its existence.

Why this matters: The case raises questions about the influence of Malaysia's elite and the apparent existence of different sets of laws for the powerful and the common people. It also puts scrutiny on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's commitment to fighting corruption.

Najib is seeking a mandamus order to compel the federal government and the Pardons Board to produce the purported supplementary order. The court has set June 5, 2024, as the date to decide on Najib's application for leave to seek judicial review.

The decision to reduce Najib's sentence was made by a pardons board chaired by Malaysia's then-king, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, in one of his final acts as the country's monarch. Najib was convicted in 2020 of seven counts of corruption and abuse of power involving 42 million ringgit funneled through SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. He still faces at least three other trials linked to the 1MDB scandal, from which at least US$4.5 billion is thought to have been looted.

Key Takeaways

  • Najib Razak seeks judicial review of alleged royal decree for house arrest
  • Deputy PM Zahid confirms existence of decree, but govt has not enforced it
  • Case raises questions about elite influence and Anwar's anti-corruption efforts
  • Najib convicted in 2020 for corruption, faces other 1MDB-related trials
  • Court to decide on Najib's judicial review application on June 5, 2024