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Is Najib Razak getting a pardon for 1MDB-linked corruption? Malaysia waits with bated breath

Fevered speculation of an imminent pardon or a significant reduction in the 70-year-old Najib’s sentence was stirred by revelations that the pardons board met with the country’s former king, Sultan Abdullah, on the last day of his reign on Monday to decide on the matter.

Under Malaysian law, the power to pardon lies with the monarch, on the advice of the pardons board appointed by him.

When asked if the announcement would be coming sometime this week, Minister Zaliha said: “God willing, we hope so”.

Other ministers have played a similarly straight bat over the incendiary issue of Najib’s jail term, with Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail – who is in charge of prisons – saying that it was “discussed” informally in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, but it was not his place to comment.

“We discussed it, but we understand that this is under the jurisdiction of the [pardons board],” he said after the cabinet meeting.

On the same day, communications minister and government spokesman Fahmi Fadzil told the media not to “jump the gun” and wait for an official announcement.

“If not, it may lead to various reactions, and, in my view, it is important to maintain professionalism when issuing statements,” he said at an unrelated press conference.


The legacy of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal on politics and corruption-fighting

This came after local newspaper Utusan reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that Najib had been given a full pardon by the board – triggering a wave of anger among the Malaysian public, many of whom feel betrayed by the prospect of seeing the former leader walk free after serving just over a year in prison for corruption.

The newspaper later retracted the news and apologised.

Singapore’s CNA, meanwhile, reported