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Malaysia 1MDB scandal: watchdog warns of protests over leniency for Najib and ‘political elite’

Najib’s fine was also slashed to 50 million ringgit (US$10.5 million) from 210 million ringgit.

Critics have accused Anwar of abandoning his loudly-trumpeted reform agenda for political expediency – his coalition is stacked with Najib allies.

“The government’s failure to be transparent regarding the advice submitted to the pardons board indicates a disregard for the people’s right to know the truth,” election watchdog Bersih 2.0 said in a statement.

Anwar has said he made sure the pardon’s board received Najib’s application.

The group, which organised mass street protests against Najib while he was in power, said the reduced sentence was just the latest “reward” doled out by Anwar’s administration to “political elites”.

“This situation sends a strong signal that the people can no longer remain silent, as the trajectory for institutional and political reform in the country veers off course,” Bersih said.

“Bersih will not hesitate to mobilise the people to take to the streets, as this is the language best understood by those comfortably in power, regardless of the various excuses given.”

Najib’s lawyers on Wednesday said the former leader was “not totally happy” he did not secure a full pardon, adding that they had argued in their application he had not been given a fair trial.

His lead counsel, Shafee Abdullah, claimed there were numerous discrepancies over the entire course of Najib’s trial, and that those were sufficient grounds for his client to be acquitted and discharged.

“The pardon is about fair trial. It has got nothing to do with whether he admitted [guilt] or not,” Shafee told a news conference.

“Datuk Seri Najib should not in prison, not even for a day, because his constitutional right has been taken away,” he said,