Najib’s future returns to haunt Anwar govt, and Zahid, as questions abound over ‘royal addendum’

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Najib Razak’s future in prison is again threatening to break the cooperation between Umno and Pakatan Harapan (PH), this time over an additional demand by the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the ex-prime minister be allowed to serve the rest of his jail time under house arrest.

MalaysiaNow has learnt from Umno circles that pressure is also mounting on party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who recently submitted an affidavit supporting Najib’s judicial review on the matter.

Many senior leaders are likewise beginning to feel the pressure from grassroots who are unhappy with Umno’s alliance with PH.

An Umno leader in Perak told MalaysiaNow that party leaders were particularly upset that Zahid had remained silent on the matter despite claiming to have earlier knowledge of the addendum.

“Why was he silent for more than two months on this big request which he claims was actually shown to him?” said the Umno man who asked to remain anonymous.

It is a view shared by many others, including former Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil, a Najib loyalist who has emerged as the coalition government’s fiercest critic in recent months.

“It was only when Najib filed the case and the issue of the addition came to public attention that they pushed to file an affidavit to avoid the heat from the grassroots.

“Zahid should have come out openly on this matter two months ago, not now after it goes to court where you can be summoned,” he said in a recent post.

In his affidavit dated April 9, Zahid said he could confirm the existence of an addendum to the “partial pardon” granted to Najib by Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, just before the monarch ended his five-year reign as Agong in January.

According to Zahid, he was shown a picture of the addendum by Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz on Jan 30 – Sultan Abdullah’s last day as Agong.

“Upon querying further, he subsequently showed me a copy of the said addendum order on this phone which he personally photographed/scanned from an original copy as shown to him by His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong XVI,” Zahid said in his affidavit, adding that he was told the attorney-general also had a copy of the addendum.

Najib was fined RM210 million and sentenced to 12 years in jail for criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money laundering over charges of embezzling RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Since he began serving his prison sentence on Aug 23, 2022, Umno leaders have been lobbying for a royal pardon like the one granted to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim which allowed the PKR leader’s release from prison in 2018 where he had been serving time for sodomy and lifted his ban from active politics.

Calls for a royal pardon grew after Zahid brought his Umno MPs to join forces with PH as Najib loyalists, who still hold great influence in the party, felt that Anwar should reward Umno for supporting PH and enabling him to fulfil his prime ministerial ambitions.

After months of speculation and pressure on the government, the Pardons Board announced that Najib’s prison sentence would be reduced to six years and his fine to RM50 million which, if paid, would get him another year off.

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has charged the government with concealing the addendum.

He said this was the first time that an order of the Agong had not been enforced.

“Why did they conceal the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s order when you (were) authorised to expose it? They should expose and enforce it,” he was quoted as saying.

He said those who “concealed” the order had committed a serious offence.

“You cannot conceal. This was the Agong’s order. You have to obey.”

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla warned that concealing the royal order could be tantamount to treason.

He said the authorities should have at least acknowledged the order and, if they disagreed, appealed to the Agong to revoke it.

“This cannot just be covered up,” Haniff said.

He also named several parties whom he said were responsible for the disclosure of the purported addendum order.

Apart from the Pardons Board itself which he said should have been the first to be informed of such an order, he said the minister in charge of the Federal Territories in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, and the Prime Minister’s Department, under which the board falls, should explain what really happened.

He also said that Anwar was ultimately responsible for whether he had been informed about the addendum order.

He also named Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution, who is in charge of prisons, and Azalina Othman Said, the minister in charge of legal affairs, saying they should be held accountable.

On Wednesday, Shafee said he had written to Anwar and other ministers several times but received no reply.Β 

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