Why is DAP keeping mum about Najib Razak’s pardon, asks political analyst

Political analyst Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk agrees with former lawmaker Ong Kian Ming that DAP must make known its stance on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s partial pardon.

The Pardons Board announced on Feb 2 that the former Malaysian prime minister’s 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine for graft and abuse of power in the SRC International Sdn Bhd scandal had been reduced to six years in jail and RM50 million.

Azeem said DAP had used Najib as the bogeyman during its campaign for the 14th and 15th General Elections, but has been strangely quiet since the announcement by the Pardons Board.

He said while DAP’s Cabinet ministers – Anthony Loke (Transport), Gobind Singh Deo (Digital), Hannah Yeoh (Youth and Sports), Steven Sim (Human Resource Ministry) and Nga Kor Ming (Housing and Local Government ) – may be tongue-tied as they must be seen as being united in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government, party leaders can still express their views on the matter.

“DAP, as a political party, should make its stance known, as it had campaigned vigorously during the 2018 and 2022 General Elections to put Najib in jail. The same goes for PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat),” said Azeem, director of the Centre for Policy Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

“Both parties went all out to expose the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) scandal. But now, they have been strangely quiet, when the person said to be the main character involved (Najib), has received a partial pardon.

“I also find it strange that DAP has not said anything about Tony Pua being called up by the police for expressing his opinion on the Pardons Board’s decision. Tony was one of the main characters, together with The Edge newspaper, to expose the scandal.”

He added that DAP’s stance can be at odds with the administration’s, but that should not stop it from being a part of the government.

Pua is being investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. He arrived at the Federal Police headquarters in Bukit Aman at 1.13pm today and left with his attorney Haijan Omar, at 2.30pm.

Pua, the former Damansara and Petaling Jaya Utara MP, told reporters that he had been called in to give a statement in connection with his five Facebook posts. He insisted there were no seditious elements in his posts.

Earlier today, Ong, a former Bangi MP, said that the Pardons Board’s decision was likely a compromise that Anwar and the Pakatan Harapan leadership had to make to placate Najib’s supporters within Umno.

“But this does not mean that the DAP leadership must stay silent on its position on several related and important issues,” said Ong.

“The DAP leadership must also take a firm position on the investigation announced by the police against Tony Pua.

“While some of Tony’s Facebook posts may not be in good taste, the DAP leadership must not forget his relentless pursuit of the 1MDB scandal, in and out of Parliament, when he was a member of Parliament.”

Azeem said Ong was right to speak out, as in a democracy, everyone should have the right to state their opinion.

“The Pardons Board’s decision was in accordance with the law, and followed due process. That is something we cannot dispute,” said Azeem.

“We must respect its collective decision, as it is not the decision of just one person. However, that does not mean we must like it. But citizens should not be penalised for speaking out if they expressed their opposition respectfully.”

He added that in the meantime, Umno is trying to get one million signatures for a petition to get a royal pardon.

“However, that is not following due process” said Azeem.

“This is not a referendum. It does not matter if it gets one million signatures. It will not compel the Pardons Board to meet,” added Azeem.

“Why are we allowing Umno to dictate the narrative? It is an inconsequential party as it has lost the support of the people.”