“Indecent for Anwar to curtail freedom of speech by urging public discourse over Najib’s partial pardon to be halted”

THAT Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has reportedly called for all debates, discussions and views in related to the partial pardon of disgraced former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be halted contradicts the liberalism, openness, transparency, tolerance and accountability that have been portrayed as the hallmark of his democracy.

Unless Anwar’s statement has been misreported by the mass media, veteran journalist and blogger Datuk A. Kadir Jasin reckoned that such action also run afoul of the constitutional rights of every citizen in terms of freedom of speech and expression of thoughts.

“The debate that he was trying to shut down was about a big decision by several individuals on a criminal whose actions have negatively affected tens of millions of Malaysians,” the national journalism laureate penned on his Facebook page.

“If the pardoned individual was a petty criminal who stole bread or Milo because his/her child in the house was hungry, I’m sure it would not provoke a negative reaction as we saw in Najib’s case.”

For context, Anwar has contended that the decision of the Pardons Board in granting a reduction Najib’s punishment by 50% in terms of jail sentence (from 12 years to six years) and 76% in value of fine (from RM210 mil to RM50 mil) was made at the discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA).

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin

By stating that the Agong’s decision is final and that “His Majesty’s consideration is a beacon of charity”, Kadir opined that the PM’s statement depicts as if all positive actions against the SRC International Sdn Bhd criminal (Najib) were “off limits to the discussion of civil society”.

He went on to describe as “very inappropriate” if the claim by some quarters, including former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Latheefa Koya, that the PM “tries to divert the offences to the Agong” is true.

“The one who is elected and responsible directly to the people is the PM given his position as the head of government. He acts as a link between the people and Agong in all official matters,” asserted the former editor-in-chief of mainstream New Straits Times.

“The one who deals directly with the Agong and the Pardons Board is the PM. Therefore, it is impossible that the PM has no role whatsoever in the case of Najib’s partial pardon.”

Added Kadir: “He’s either denying his responsibility on the pretext that he was not involved in the pardon process or he was trying hard to address the negative response to Najib’s pardon.” – Feb 6, 2024

Main pic credit: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Facebook

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