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LETTER | The Pardons Board must have presented a very convincing case for former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s reduced jail sentence and fine.

It is the prerogative of the Agong to make the final decision. Hence, as what has been decided is beyond us, let us respect the decision.

Although there is no legal obligation on the Pardons Board to divulge its grounds and reasons for advising the king to grant the jail sentence and fine reduction, making known these reasons would remove unnecessary doubts and suspicion amongst the general public as this is of high public interest.

Let’s move on from here and discuss what the Pardons Board should be mindful of in the future.

Court cases and verdicts must be carried out to ensure justice is done and seen to be done. A parallel can be drawn here, although in this case, giving a pardon is on compassionate grounds and hence more subjective in nature.

Having said this, this compassion must be bound by certain regulations and criteria. Having satisfied these regulations and criteria, then compassion considerations arrived at would be more palatable to the public.

There are two important rules to be adhered to in applying for pardon. The construction requires the convict to have served at least one-third of his jail sentence and he must not have other pending court cases. Once these two rules have been satisfied, he is then legally qualified to file his application to seek pardon.

Then comes the more subjective aspects. The Pardons Board should revisit the whole court case, in general terms. The Pardons Board should have a good understanding of how the crime was committed.

Issues of great concern are the convict’s position and his office at the time of committing the crime, his role, and the whole web of accomplices and transactions. From these, we would see his motive, and this motive is very important in determining his objective in the whole case.

The manner in which the court case was carried out is another important factor that needs serious consideration. If the case has gone through all three levels of legal battle – the High Court, Court of Appeals, and the Federal Court, and the verdicts were unanimous or almost unanimous, the degree of leniency must be exercised with utmost care.

Benevolence and compassion should also diminish proportionally. A wrongdoer should show remorse and regret over what he has done and this can be done by a simple expression of apology. Even in a family, we teach our children to apologise for having done something wrong, followed by a pledge to correct himself.

Even though the very act of seeking a pardon is an implicit way of guilt admission, the convict must take the initiative to express this element of guilt. Strutting around in style is far from expressing guilt.

The fine imposed by the court should also not be reduced for the simple reason that if the person is convicted of plundering public funds, reducing his fine is equivalent to offering him further opportunities to plunder.

In conclusion, as in legal cases, there should be no element of fear or favour. Everyone is equal before the law and constitution. Every case must be given due and just consideration and based on its merits. No other elements should mar these considerations, political or otherwise.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.