KUALA LUMPUR,. The ultimate power to pardon a convict rests solely in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s hands and an “incomplete” Pardons Board would not stymie the process, constitutional lawyers told Malay Mail.
According to Lim Wei Jiet, the vacancy of the Federal Territories minister and the replacement of the Attorney-General (AG) with the Solicitor-General on the board will not nullify or compromise any recommendation made to the Ruler to pardon a person.
“[Under] Article 42(1), the power to pardon a person is by the Agong,” said the deputy co-chairman of the Malaysian Bar’s constitutional law committee, referring to the Federal Constitution.
Lim further explained that pursuant to Article 42(4)(a), the Agong need not consult or be advised by the Pardons Board to make his decision.
The Pardons Board is essentially composed of the AG, the Federal Territories minister, and three appointees.
The Board is scheduled to have its meeting with Sultan Muhammad V at 11am on the release of PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently serving a five-year prison term for sodomy.
Because Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed has yet to appoint a Federal Territories minister and has put AG Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali on garden leave, the position of the minister in the Board will be presumably left vacant while the other will be filled in by Solicitor-General Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek.
Getting a royal pardon for Anwar was among the promises made by Pakatan Harapan before the coalition came to power. The pact intends for him to success Dr Mahathir as PM.
Like Lim, another constitutional lawyer, Surendra Ananth, said the AG can be replaced with the solicitor-general in the Pardons Board.
Citing 40A of the 11th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, Surendra said the solicitor-general “may perform any of the duties and may exercise any of the powers of the attorney-general” in the Board.
“My view is that the solicitor-general can provide the written opinion required under Article 42(9) of the Federal Constitution to be given and considered by the Pardons Board,” he said.
Surendra also said the vacancy of the minister would not affect the advice given by the Pardons Board to the Ruler.
“The Board can proceed to advise despite the vacancy of the position of FT minister,” he said.
Lawyer Andrew Khoo, who co-chairs the Bar Council’s Human Rights committee, also stressed that the Pardons Board was only in charge of making the recommendations, but pointed that the power to decide was by the Agong.
“The Board makes a recommendation to the Agong. The Agong then exercises his own discretion,” he said.
Anwar was supposed to be released on Tuesday afternoon, but the Pardons Board said its meeting was postponed by the Prime Minister’s Department.