JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia’s decision not to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) as planned is a regressive move, said political veteran and Democratic Action Party (DAP) stalwart Lim Kit Siang on Saturday (Apr 6).
The government did a U-turn on Friday after backlash from the Johor crown prince and some opposition politicians.
It is the government’s second policy backtrack in recent months. Last November, it went back on a decision to ratify a UN treaty against racial discrimination, after some in the Malay community expressed concerns it could erode their privileged position.
The decision not to join the ICC was “forced” upon the government, said Mr Lim, due to various parties who did not fully understand the matter.
“The people should be more knowledgeable about this issue,” said Mr Lim, who is also Iskandar Puteri MP in Johor.
“Why is it that just 11 months after the 14th General Election, their minds can be easily poisoned?
“So much so that even things which are not true, such as the ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) and the Rome Statute being a threat to the Malays, Muslims and the institution of the Malay rulers.”
The DAP is part of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition.
Malaysia had already signed the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, but still had to ratify it to formally become a member of the court.
Johor crown prince on Friday posted a series of images on Facebook to make his case on how the Rome Statute would undermine the status of the royals.
One of the points brought up was Article 27 of the Rome Statute, which states that it should apply equally to all persons. Therefore, the rulers’ sovereignty as guaranteed in Article 181 of the Malaysian constitution will not stop the ICC from taking action against the king, according to his interpretation.
Visibly upset over the Cabinet's decision to not ratify the Rome Statute, Prime Minister Mahathir Mahathir told reporters at a press conference on Friday that the backlash against signing the treaty was a political move to pit the royals against the government.
"We understand that this is a political move to get the rulers to back them up. Of course some members of the royal family might be involved, but the whole idea is to get the royalty in Malaysia to go against this government," Dr Mahathir said.
"Because of this confusion, and confusion among the rulers, we have made the decision that we will not recognise the Rome Statute.”