Anwar must seek pardon personally, say lawyers

Lawyer-Jagjit-Singh

PETALING JAYA: Only a full pardon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can enable Anwar Ibrahim to resurrect his political career, according to lawyers familiar with clemency procedures.

They say a partial clemency may result in his release from prison but will not enable him to contest in the coming general election, which must be held before the middle of 2018.

They are of the opinion that the petition for a royal pardon should come from Anwar personally and he must list out the mitigating factors for clemency.

Lawyer Jagjit Singh said it would not be desirable for a lawyer or any member of Anwar’s family to sign the letter of representation.

“It should be signed by the person who is aggrieved by the decision of the court,” he told FMT.

Jagjit has handled many applications to the Pardons Board, including that of former youth and sports minister Mokhtar Hashim, who was convicted of the 1982 murder of Gemencheh assemblyman Mohd Taha Talib.

 He said his clients personally signed the letter of representation for clemency in all of the cases he had handled.

“In the eyes of the law, the applicant is guilty as charged,” he said. “The board can only vary the sentence imposed by the courts.”

Soon after the Federal Court affirmed Anwar’s conviction and sentence for sodomy last year, his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and daughter Nurul Izzah petitioned for clemency. The Pardons Board dismissed the application without giving any reason.

Jagjit said there was nothing in the law that would stop Anwar from filing a similar application.

Another lawyer, former police officer S N Nair, said only a full pardon would erase the five-year jail term Anwar began serving on Feb 10 last year.

Without the pardon, he said, it was unlikely for Anwar to get a one-third remission from the jail term because he was convicted of corruption in 1999.

“He served six years in prison for the offence and has not received a full pardon,” he said.

Nair noted that the law prevented Anwar from contesting in an election or holding a political position for five years after his release. He is due for release in early 2020 if he is not pardoned or given a remission.

“Anwar will be 78 then and hence would have lost his prime years,” Nair said.

Lawyer Kitson Foong said Anwar needed to show he was remorseful for his actions and had repented.

“Like any other convict, he must show why he should be forgiven,” he added.

He said prison officers and the Attorney-General’s Chambers would provide documents to help the Pardons Board come to its decision.

“But in the end, it is up to the King to exercise his discretion,” he said.

Yesterday, the Federal Court dismissed Anwar’s application for a review of his conviction. It was his final attempt to use the courts to clear himself.

Since the offence was committed in Kuala Lumpur, the pardon proceedings will be chaired by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Members of the board would consist of the Attorney-General, the Federal Territories Minister and three other members. – FMT

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