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1MDB scandal: Anwar seeks to soothe Malaysians’ outrage over Najib Razak’s reduced punishment

On Monday, Anwar tried to soothe the outrage being aimed at his administration, which came to power in late 2022 partly thanks to the support of Umno, Najib’s party.

“His majesty is what is described as a fountain of mercy,” Anwar said of the king’s decision as head of the pardons board on the last day of his reign on January 30. “The main consideration is the matter of compassion. Whether his majesty decided to issue an explanation or not, that is his prerogative.”

The pardons board also reduced Najib’s fine from 210 million ringgit (US$44.5 million) to just 50 million ringgit.

Najib, who denies all wrongdoing, must be released no later than August 23, 2028, the board said on Friday. But he could be granted parole as early as the end of next year under sentencing rules.

Public scorn for the leniency being shown to a man at the heart of a corruption scandal that became global news intensified after police began an investigation into social media posts by Tony Pua, a former member of parliament whose revelations were crucial in bringing the 1MDB scandal to light.

Calling Najib “King Klep” – short for kleptocrat – Pua jokingly asked to be sent to jail for a year in exchange for 50 million ringgit, mocking the one-year extra penalty Najib faces if he fails to pay his heavily discounted fine.

“I’m being investigated for sedition over my Facebook posts,” Pua said on Sunday, asking people to wish him luck.

Akmal Saleh, leader of Umno’s vocal youth wing that filed police reports against Pua, responded by saying: “May your wish to go to prison be granted.”

Many, including Anwar’s former deputy law minister Ramkarpal Singh, have called for the pardons board to outline its thinking behind the decision on Najib.

“Such developments can