Dr Azmi feels that Najib’s return to UMNO will create a “positive vibe” for the party, especially after Malay voters had flocked to the opposition Perikatan Nasional coalition in the previous election following a loss of confidence in UMNO’s ability to represent the Malay ground.
“It will be good for the unity government because UMNO will be in a stronger position to attract the Malay voters,” he said, although he felt it will still be difficult for UMNO to regain its previous strength among Malay voters and go solo.
But Prof Chin believes the “most logical” move for Najib would be to push for two of his sons who are already in politics to run for more prominent positions in the next general election.
Najib’s eldest son Nizar, 46, is a state assemblyman for Peramu Jaya in Pahang’s Pekan constituency, which is considered Najib’s family seat. Najib’s other son Nazifuddin, 40, is chief of UMNO’s Langkawi division.
“I don’t think Najib is going to cause trouble immediately after he comes out. The reason is that he also needs some time to survey his political support,” Prof Chin added.
“Don’t forget we’re talking about events that will happen in two or three years’ time. The scenario could change, so I don’t think we should place too much emphasis on Najib making a comeback.”
NAJIB’S OTHER CHARGES LIKLEY TO PROCEED
Significant factors in these permutations include whether Najib will be granted parole for good behaviour, and whether his previous conviction allows him to run in the 16th General Election due by 2028.
It is also worth noting that Najib is still facing other 1MDB-related charges, and it remains unclear how the partial pardon will affect this.
Dr Azmi feels the partial pardon will put prosecutors in an “awkward position”, but not to the extent of stopping them from proceeding on current or future charges against Najib.
Lawyer Joshua Wu, a partner at Messrs. P.E. LIM, said Najib’s partial pardon will likely not have any effect on his ongoing criminal cases.
“Najib’s only conviction, at the moment, is the one by the High Court in 2020 and later affirmed by the Federal Court in 2022. He is technically innocent until proven guilty, in relation to his ongoing criminal cases,” he told CNA.
The prosecution has until September this year to proceed with trial on outstanding money laundering charges against Najib, after which Najib’s lawyers can apply for an acquittal or a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
For the charges, Najib faces up to five years’ jail, a maximum fine of RM5 million, or both if convicted.