KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak will apply to be absent from an ongoing corruption trial next week to vote on the bill to lower the voting age in Parliament. The High Court had refused to excuse him on Monday.
He said Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas objected prematurely to the request, arguing that it was his constitutional right to attend parliamentary sittings as an elected lawmaker.
“Although it is for the judge to decide, but the AG had objected to it in the first instance. I think if the AG hadn’t objected, then there is no reason why I should be deprived of my constitutional right as an MP.
“A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority, which requires every single MP to be present whether they support it or not,” Najib told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby, here today.
He then cited the case of Karpal Singh, saying the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government had been fair to the late DAP leader.
“The judiciary made allowances for Karpal, both when he had been in the dock and when he had represented others.
“During BN’s time, we were quite liberal. Karpal had every single opportunity. The courts adjusted dates to accommodate him even when he was a counsel, not even when he was the accused.
“He was given the opportunity to perform in court as a counsel for other cases as well as attending parliament. You can imagine the latitude we gave to them when BN was in power,” said Najib.
On Monday, Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that his client must be in Parliament to vote on the special motion in making it mandatory for all MPs to declare their assets, which was approved the same day, and another to lower the voting age.
High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali declined, however, and said there was no certainty that voting would take place as suggested by the defence. He then reminded Najib that he was on trial for serious criminal charges.
Thomas had also objected to the request, saying an adjournment application should be considered on a case-by-case basis and this was the price an MP, who is accused of a criminal charge, has to pay.