Uncertainties still surround the Anwar position; role of AG in Pardons Board not interchangeable

Anwar -- Hoping hope against hope

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – May 14, 2018: News about Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being granted an early release from jail has resurfaced again, this time claiming he will be freed tomorrow.

His daughter, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah, was quoted as saying that her father’s release was intertwined with him being granted a full royal pardon.

Her claim was however disputed because according to several constitutional law experts, there is a specific set of procedures that must be adhered to before a royal pardon can be granted by the Yang diPertuan Agong.

Later today a PKR official issued a statement saying that the Pardons Board will now meet on Wednesday to discuss the application for a pardon for Anwar.

According to Fahmi Fadzil, the party’s communications director, it received the latest news from the Prime Minister’s Department on this. Hence, the any programme relating to Anwar’s release will be postponed until further notice.

Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi of Universiti of Malaya said the board must first meet before any convict can be pardoned.

“There is no specific time frame exists. However, it could be done fairly quick once the attorney-general submits his report to the board and the board convenes,” wrote Shad Saleem via WhatsApp.

International Islamic University Professor Dr. Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz echoed Shad’s opinion, adding that Article 42 of the Constitution states that a pardon must be done on the advice of the board.

The board consists of the AG, the chief executive of the state the person being considered for a pardon is from, and not more than three members appointed by the ruler.

Principally, the constitution also states that the Agong must chair the board’s meeting and Article 42 (9) explains that the board must procure a written view over the pardon application from the AG before advising the Agong, said Shamrahayu.

On whether the AG’s role can be performed by the solicitor-general, Shamrahayu refers to Article 42 (5) of the Constitution to say the role is not interchangeable.

News of Anwar’s possible early release was reported three days ago after new Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said the Agong had decided to pardon Anwar who is currently serving a five-year jail term since 2015 for sodomising his aide.

Commenting on Mahathir’s statement, another constitutional expert who spoke under the condition of anonymity argued that the 92-year-old prime minister should not have done so. Today Mahathir says the process may take longer.

“The PM said he wants to uphold the rule of law, so according to the rule of law the board must first convene before any announcement could be made,” he said.




About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.