Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had drawn flak from within the ruling coalition but was lauded by some former Ministers and those who had opposed the decision to ratify the treaty.
Most notably was Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim who has said on his official Twitter handle “Long Live the King. Demi Agama, Bangsa dan Negara. Daulat Tuanku.”
The crown prince and his father, the Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar were opposed towards Malaysia ratifying the Rome Statute.
Previously Sultan Ibrahim had warned that ratifying the treaty would violate the Federal Constitution as it would affect the status of Royalty in Malaysia, Malay rights and the sanctity of Islam in Malaysia. While the crown prince claimed that certain quarters who wanted to dismantle the royal institution might try to orchestrate war crimes.
The decision of the Prime Minister to withdraw from the treaty today (5th April 2019) was reported by the media to have said that it was due to public confusion, emotional feelings of the people, and unidentified quarters who tried to turn the royalty against the government.
“So, our Cabinet decision this morning is that we will withdraw our ratification of the Statute of Rome because of confusion. Not because we believe it is going to be bad for us, but the confusion created by one particular person who wants to be free to beat up people and things like that.
“If he beats up people again, I will send the police to arrest him. I don’t care who he is,” the Prime Minister was reported by MalayMail to have said.
Other who praised the decision was former minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan who had said that it was a “much welcome U-Turn.”
“Clearly, the Foreign Ministry did not do proper engagement of the relevant stakeholders and ill-advised the PM on such an important issue,” Rahman Dahlan said on his official Twitter handle.
However, Dr. Mahathir drew flak from within the government coalition when DAP Klang MP Charles Santiago was reported by MalaysiaKini to have said that the decision had reflected negatively on the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers.
The Asean intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights chairperson has said cabinet ministers are elected by the people and on the behalf of the people should be making important decisions.
He added that by acceding to the Rome Statute, it enables the government to act against perpetrators of murder and genocide when Malaysia is part of Asean.
“That is what it means by playing an important role in Asean. But why the fear?
“It shows the government is not prepared, and that is why they are buckling under pressure.
“It shows weakness, it shows they have not outgrown their weaknesses,” he said according to a MalaysiaKini report.
Santiago also added that it would send the wrong message to the public when the government relents quickly under pressure.
“Those who voted for you are disappointed, thinking you will make the right decisions, it reflects negatively on him (Mahathir) and the rest of the Pakatan Harapan cabinet,” he said adding that the decision to give in to the pressure from certain quarters make him look “very weak”.
Meanwhile former Bar Council president and former Bersih 2.0 chairwoman Ambiga Sreenevasan had called out the cabinet ministers saying that they should have been there with Dr. Mahathir when he made the decision, since de facto law Minister Liew Vui Keong made a statement declaring it a collective cabinet decision.
“They ought to have been present with the prime minister to make the announcement, whether they agreed with it or not. Or whether they felt compelled to or not.
“They must all take responsibility for this decision which I believe is an embarrassment particularly as it shows a total misunderstanding of the ICC,” she told online news portal MalaysiaKini.
“Cabinet’s disappointing decision and this man is left to make the announcement alone.” Ambiga had also tweeted after the Prime Minister made the announcement.
“Indeed. Very very disappointing and unnecessary move. What a shame. And an embarrassment. This government has the right ideas but too many self serving politicians make it difficult to bring real change,” she also tweeted in reply to Sam Zarifi , Secretary General, International Commission of Jurists who urges Malaysia to join the drive for global accountability by acceding the Rome Statute.
The Rome Statute establishes four core international crimes which are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, making those crimes “shall not be subject to any statute of limitations”. Under the treaty, the ICC can investigate and prosecute the four core crimes mentioned only in situations where the states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so.
5th April 2019