By Zikri Kamarulzaman | Malaysiakini

Hopes that former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will defend his Pekan seat in the next general election has hit a roadblock after the Court of Appeal upheld his guilty verdict in the SRC International case.

While Najib will continue to serve as a member of Parliament since he has secured a stay of execution pending appeal, he will not be eligible to contest in any elections.

Lawyer New Sin Yew said that Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution is clear that convicts sentenced to one year or above in jail, or fined RM2,000 or more, are disqualified from being an MP.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years in jail and an RM210 million fine.

Clause (4) of the Article does allow for the disqualification for a current MP to be postponed pending appeal.

However, Clause (5) states that Clause (4) does not apply for the purpose of nomination, election, or appointment to Parliament.

Therefore to qualify to participate in a fresh election, Najib must get his guilty verdict overturned by the Federal Court.

But this can take several months, if not longer.

For example, in Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II case, the Federal Court delivered its verdict 11 months after the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Disqualification subject to interpretation

There are strong expectations that the next general election will be held sometime next year, although the fragile memorandum of understanding between Putrajaya and Pakatan Harapan states that Parliament must not be dissolved before July 21.

According to New, the only other alternative for Najib is to secure a royal pardon, which he said can be done before the Federal Court makes a ruling.

Najib previously had not ruled out seeking re-election, saying that the terms of disqualification were “subject to interpretation”.

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang had repeatedly expressed concerns that Najib will be making a comeback as the 10th Prime Minister after the 15th General Election.

He cited BN’s landslide victory in the Malacca polls, which he claimed was a shot in the arm for Najib’s bid to return to power.

Besides not being able to contest in a general election, Najib will also not be able to hold any elected office in Umno, as convicts are prohibited from holding party posts.