It is without a doubt that the recent Townhall For Justice Session pledged to put more pressure on the powers-that-be to release former premier, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who could have boosted the BN win in Pelangai on Sunday
KUALA LUMPUR – On the afternoon of 30 September 2023, while many in the Klang Valley tried to avoid the city centre because of two major events taking place, some 300 Malaysians converged in Wisma MCA to hear what various professionals have to say about the lack of justice in our courts, specifically pertaining to the cases involving former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Themed “Keadilan Sebenarnya Untuk Siapa?” (“Justice Is For Whom, Actually?”), the Townhall For Justice event was helmed by luminaries from the legal fraternity, the academic sector as well as seasoned politicians who did not mince words when they see the injustice thrown at Najib and other leaders sharing the same fate.
A week later on 07 October, voters in Pelangai constituency in Pahang cast their votes to elect a new State Assemblyman to replace the late Datuk Seri Johari Harun of Barisan Nasional (BN) who died in a plane crash in Selangor last month. Although BN won handsomely with a 2,949 vote majority over its closest rival Perikatan Nasional, it was still a worrying victory for BN.
This is because in the constituency of Pelangai, there are three FELDA areas whereby the voters are traditionally BN’s major vote bank. In this by-election, however, two of these areas went to PN while the Felda Chemomoi area went to BN with only a slim edge.
As Malaysians know it, FELDA has always been about its founder, the second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak and this legacy was carried on by his son, Najib, the country’s 6th Prime Minister, now incarcerated in Kajang Prison for 12 years for what is obviously political persecution.
This was the reason why calls were made for Najib to be released immediately or BN will face further setbacks in the coming by-elections. Next up will be Kemaman in Terengganu which has five FELDA areas in the constituency.
The takeaway from the Townhall for Justice was obvious, Najib has to be released now as he was denied justice and the current Unity Government, of which BN is a major partner, needs him to neutralise the voices of dissent from the voters who were not happy with the way the trials involving his cases were conducted.
Fiery Session Kicked Off Townhall
First up was a fiery session by the politicians, namely Senator YB Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker of MCA, Datuk Seri S Thanenthiran from Makkal Sakthi Party and Isham Jalil from UMNO. The session was moderated by BeNAR Deputy President, Dr Yusof Aaron Abdullah.
Thanenthiran disclosed that Najib did not agree that street demonstrations should be organised to get the people to push for justice for him. He said that the proposal had been submitted to Najib following the court cases faced by the former Pekan Member of Parliament.
He added that Najib subscribes to the principle of the rule of law and does not want this country to be hit by various street demonstrations, ultimately destroying the country.
Meanwhile, Lian Ker said that Najib’s supporters and those who sympathise with the former Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman are a rational lot.
“We do not radicalise our supporters. That is why Bossku did not have the political momentum needed to support his pardon application,” he explained. He also saw many irregularities in the cases Najib faced where the principle of the rule of law was violated.
Isham Jalil meanwhile said that only Najib can pull back support of grassroots for UMNO.
Najib Still Popular With Grassroots
“Najib is still popular among the party grassroots and could raise the dwindling support for the party since the 15th General Election (GE15).
“The recent six-state polls also saw Umno losing support from almost 80% of its grassroots. In a political party, we cannot afford to lose our grassroots, and only he (Najib) can pull back their support.
“What happens if we lose all our grassroots in future general elections, especially the 16th General Election?,” he asked.
Then came the session that many were waiting for, especially those who wanted to clear the legal cobwebs in the minds of the participants and viewers on the various LIVE FB feeds.
Themed Justice Hurried Is Justice Denied, the participants seemed reassured when Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah disclosed that Najib is not seeking forgiveness in his quest for a royal pardon. Instead, he contends that Najib was denied the opportunity for a fair trial in the SRC International case.
Shafee, who serves as the former prime minister’s legal counsel, insisted that the royal pardon application submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is distinct and unprecedented.
“This application does not stem from Najib’s admission of guilt or remorse, but rather from the fact that Najib’s lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, never had the chance to present his case in the federal court on August 23.”
He explained that Najib’s case in the SRC matter was never actually heard by the federal court due to Hisyam’s appointment just two to three weeks before the trial, leaving him insufficient time for preparation.
“After Hisyam’s application to postpone the hearing (for three to four months) was rejected, the Attorney-General had then given a chance for the respondent’s prosecutor to present their case.
“Think about this. This is extremely odd. It is illogical. The Attorney-General invited the respondent to respond, but respond to what when the appeal was never heard?
“Not only is this unjust, but it is also against the current legal system and justice procedure that we have,” he said.
Shafee also disclosed that a petition with similar content to the royal pardon application was submitted to the United Nations panel on arbitrary detention committee in February of this year.
He cited the unfair, biased, and prejudiced handling of the case by the national justice system as the reason for this additional action.
“This UN committee consists of legal specialists, the best in the world,” he said.
The case is currently under examination in Geneva, with a decision expected before the end of this year. This decision, serving as an advisory opinion from the UN, could potentially provide the grounds for a retrial of the SRC International case.
“Though it is not compulsory (to follow the committee’s decision), what is the use of use being part of the UN if we don’t listen to the UN’s opinion?” he asked.
Fellow panelist, senior lawyer Kamarudin Ahmad meanwhile said that Najib’s era was the happiest for the people of this country and clarified that these are not his words, but the claims by the media and social media users.
“During his time, we all had the feel good factor at all times. It was during his time that we had BR1M and I heard him say himself, we might be able to raise it up to RM3,000 at that time.”
Kamarudin then urged UMNO President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to initiate the call for a global pardon, taking into account his term of office from 2009-2018 and the major contributions he had made for the country.
The second final session was about Economics and the Medical sector of which Najib very much paid a lot of attention to in various transformation programmes during his nine-year tenure as Prime Minister.
Helming the session was former TV3 programme host and now CEO of Yayasan Media Hebat, Datuk Seri Dzulkarnain Taib with panellists Dr Mustazar Mansur, a senior lecturer from UKM specialising in Micro-Economy and Dr Ismail Ali, a consultant physician and associate professor of post-graduate degree at KPJ University College. The latter is also the President of BeNAR Malaysia, one of the NGOs organising the Townhall.
All three gentlemen spoke at length on how much the country had benefitted from Najib’s economics policies and his far-sighted vision to bring forward the country’s medical facilities to world-class standards.
The final event for the Townhall involved Datuk Hamidah Osman representing the Movement Seeking for Justice for Najib Razak who called again for a Royal Commission of Enquiry (RCI) to obtain justice for the former PM. She disclosed that the Movement will be sending a plea to the King to consider their request and possible pardon for Najib.
At the end of the session, Hamidah and a group of university students, together with the participants of the Townhall, made a pledge to fight for Najib’s release with the theme “Pulangkan Najib” (Return Najib to his Family). – NMH
Datin Hasnah is the co-founder and CEO of New Malaysia Herald based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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