PETALING JAYA: The law permits Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak (pix) to remain as member of Parliament for Pekan, meaning he gets to keep his position and all the privileges that come with it. However, regular citizens convicted of certain crimes are not accorded such latitude.
This has raised the question of elbow room given to convicted politicians, but not to others.
Bar Council president Salim Bashir pointed out that Najib’s situation was different from those who hold a regular job.
“Based on the Federal Constitution, a member of Parliament will lose his seat on conviction above the prescribed limit of punishments,” he said.
“This will only materialise after the appeal process has been exhausted, if there is one. This is different from employment in certain sectors, where the determination of immediate sacking or relief of duties are subject to the rules of employment or services of the sectors.”
However, lawyer Fahri Azzat said Najib being allowed to hold office was an example of exemptions for the rich and powerful, that an ordinary person may not be entitled to.
“If this was a regular member of the public, there would be no debate. A person convicted of such serious crimes would have not been allowed to continue in a position they hold.”
“This shows that there is a different privilege available to you if you have the money to hire good lawyers or have held high positions.
“I think given the nature of his offences, he should not be allowed to hold his seat. He was convicted for breach of trust.”
Universiti Malaya socio-political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said although it can be seen as wrong, Najib’s situation was quite normal in Malaysia.
“If you look at it from the point of integrity and political morality, he should have resigned from all political posts after being convicted.
“But in the Malaysian context, this is not often done, and Najib still hopes that the Court of Appeal will overturn the High Court decision.”
Political analyst Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi said Najib will not resign as this would have adverse effects on the image he and his political allies have built.
“Nobody is going to resign unless they have integrity, like Dr Maszlee Malik or Datuk Zaid Ibrahim,” he said.
“Once Najib steps down, he will lose his symbol of power and will appear guilty.
“And then the idea of Malay leadership and Islamic leadership, which Umno and PAS worked to build, will be tainted with corruption.”
Read the story on our iPaper: No obligation to resign