Malaysia's Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or King, has said that Islamic justice does not give privileges or exceptions to those who commit wrongdoings.
Opening of Syariah Court
As reported by Bernama, via The New Straits Times, the Agong was speaking at the Sep. 5 opening of the Kompleks Syariah Al-Sultan Abdullah, the official name of the Pahang Syariah Court Complex.
The Agong position is held in five year terms by the Sultans of the various states of Malaysia, and is currently held by Sultan Abdullah, the Sultan of Pahang.
In his speech, Sultan Abdullah said:
"The principle of justice that is transparent also succeeds in developing a just, fair and prosperous society. The principle of justice according to Islam is upholding God's trust.
Based on the same principle, Syariah courts must also be wise in using discretionary powers and to be always fair to all parties when sentencing, especially those involving family cases.
If the law is not implemented consistently and fairly, justice will certainly not be achieved as the philosophy behind the enactment of a law would have been tainted, and as a result, the disadvantaged party would end up being victimised by those in power."
Sultan Abdullah also said that the principle of Islamic justice did not allow any form of injustice, including to those (who are) disliked; and it upheld justice without favouritism.
He also said that the power to punish and pardon should not "be used arbitrarily" because it would be held accountable in the 'afterlife'; and that Syariah judges should ensure cases were handled fairly and that judgements should not be delayed.
Agong's order as a guide
According to a Malay language report in Malaysia's Berita Harian; Shahidan Kassim, who sits on the Board of Pardons by virtue of being the Federal Territories Minister, has said that he will use the "Agong's order as a guide" regarding former Prime Minister, now convicted and incarcerated felon, Najib Razak's pardon appeal.
Shadidan said that a statement regarding Najib's appeal will be issued at the right time, but he could not arbitrarily make "an open statement because it involves legislation, the world, and the afterlife".
Shahidan was identified by MalaysiaNow in 2021 as part of ruling UMNO party's "government cluster", opposed to members of the party who are facing court trials for corruption, such as Najib and UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
According to MalaysiaKini, Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus, vice-president of Amanah which is part of the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition, said:
“We are confident that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will uphold the principle when deciding in all matters, as the head of the country, for the sake of the nation and its people.”
Najib has been convicted of three counts of criminal breach of trust, three money laundering charges and one count of abuse of power, resulting in a 12 year prison sentence and RM 210 million (S$65.33 million) fine in 2020.
After exhausting his appeals on Aug. 23, he was sent to prison. On Sep. 2 Najib officialy filed a petition for a royal pardon, allowing him to retain his seat in parliament for the time being. He represents the Pekan seat, in Pahang.
Top image via Istana Negara/Facebook & Prime Minister's Office(Malaysia)