Malaysia | 25 August 2022

Malaysia: Former PM loses appeal against conviction

The Federal Court of Malaysia upheld the 12-year-sentence of former Prime Minister Najib Razak on corruption-related charges.


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As reported by Reuters on 23 August 2022, the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld the 12-year-sentence of former Prime Minister Najib Razak on corruption-related charges, ending proceedings that had continued for more than four years.

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: “While the long-term significance of this Federal Court decision is not yet clear (especially in terms of what it means for the delicate state of domestic politics), three immediate consequences are certain:
  1. As a convict, Najib Razak will lose his position as an Member of Parliament (and most likely much of the influence that came with it in his political party, UMNO).
  2. He will spend his days in prison and any legal or extra-legal avenue (e.g. a petition to the king) would have to initiate from there.
  3. The independence of the Malaysian judiciary prevailed, although the judges are having to withstand enormous pressure.
The most likely path forward for Najib Razak is to claim that the trial has been unfair, a claim which is likely to sound convincing to the majority of his numerous supporters. Apart from that, his political career may well be over (Channel News Asia, 23 August 2022). He might seek royal clemency and ask for a pardon from the king; however, such a request needs to be recommended by the incumbent prime minister, which does not seem very likely at the moment. It should also be kept in mind that the conviction ended just one of many cases against the former prime minister and more are emerging. This all serves as a boost for the opposition parties.”

Thomas Muller adds: “It is too early to say if this unique political development will have the power to bridge the rift between ethnic and religious groups in Malaysia and effect the Christian community in a positive way. It is at least possible, however, that more and more voters will begin to understand that – when united – they can achieve real change, but if they remain divided along racial and religious lines (as taught by political parties, leaders and society in general), they will not.”


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