KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government back-pedalled on its decision to ratify the Rome Statute for fear of a coup d’etat, said Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad on Monday (Apr 8).
Speaking to journalists at the Parliament lobby, Mr Khalid said the government has to be careful with Malay issues, The Star reported.
“Nothing is impossible, especially since 70 per cent of the population are Malays and they are sufficiently influenced to believe that the position of the Malays is in danger,” he said, noting that the police and military are also fundamentally Malay-based institutions.
His comments echoed that of Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, who reportedly said over the weekend that the Cabinet reversed its decision to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for fear of a coup d’etat attempt spurred on by powers behind the scene.
The ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced on Apr 5 that Malaysia would not join the ICC due to political pressure and “confusion among the rulers”.
Critics of the Rome Statute – including Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Iskandar and his Crown Prince Tunku Ismail – had claimed that the international convention would undermine the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the Malay rulers.
Dr Mahathir’s announcement came as a huge let-down to some civil society groups as the PH government is seen giving in to dissenting pressure again, after having earlier reversed on its decision to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in November 2018.
Mr Khalid said the Cabinet withdrew from the Rome Statute because the Conference of Rulers were dragged into the matter.
He said those with vested interest to create public disorder could potentially capitalise on issues related to Malay rights and the rulers’ position. The PH government, he added, has to deal with accusations of it being “anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-royalty”.
ROME STATUTE WOULD JEOPARDISE POSITION OF ROYALS: ACADEMICS
Mr Khalid said the Cabinet had to reconsider its decision after certain academicians concluded that the Rome Statute would jeopardise the position of the royalty.
He was referring to the leaked executive summary of a paper prepared by four academicians submitted to the Conference of Rulers, which was uploaded to Facebook by law graduate Asheeq Ali.
The paper, among others, warned that the king may be prosecuted by the ICC as the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces. The views contradicted that of the Foreign Ministry, which had earlier stressed that the ratification of the Rome Statute would not affect the position and immunity of the king.
Mr Asheeq, 24, claimed that the findings of the academic paper were heavily lopsided and had led to the royals rejecting Malaysia’s participation in the treaty.
Disappointed with the Cabinet’s decision to withdraw from ratifying the Rome Statute, he and eight other student activists started an online petition on Saturday to press the Conference of Rulers and the government to accede to the treaty.
Mr Asheeq, who has just graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said he decided to upload the executive summary to inspire the people to speak up and debate. The king has been misled and the people are confused, he added.
“I foresee the world to be peace without war. People might say I am overambitious, but that’s what I believe in. I foresee this to happen if the Rome Statute is accepted by everyone in this world. As the number of state parties increase, there will be fewer safe places for the perpetrators,” he told CNA.
The four academicians – Prof Dr Rahmat Mohamad, Prof Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, Dr Fareed Mohd Hassan and Mr Hisham Hanapi – declined to comment on the leaked document, according to The Star.