KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — The federal government’s move yesterday to withdraw from adopting the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was “forced consent” as nearly all ministers wanted to proceed, said a source familiar with the matter.
Local daily The Star cited the person as saying the Cabinet had to reluctantly arrive at the decision to reverse Malaysia’s accession of the Rome Statute despite its views.
“This is izin dalam paksa (forced consent) for it is just like forcing someone to marry. We are also retracting under protest,” the source was quoted saying.
The source said the Cabinet heatedly discussed the issue of the Rome Statute for hours, with the minority advocating the withdrawal to protect Pakatan Harapan’s position as the government.
The PH coaliton narrowly won the general election in an upset victory last year, but did so without majority support from Malay voters.
“We all understood the importance of acceding to the Rome Statute. At the meeting yesterday, we discussed it deeply and we all had a say.
“Ninety per cent of the Cabinet were for keeping to the Rome Statute as it does not go against the Federal Constitution. Some argued that it placed Malaysia on a high level of integrity internationally, but there were a few who felt that we had to retract so as to stay in power,” the source was quoted saying.
The source said the PH government had to concede its position to assuage the public in the face of Opposition parties allegedly “whipping up political sentiments using the issue of Malay Rulers, religion and race”.
Another source asserted that Cabinet members who objected to proceeding with the Rome Statute were likely fearful the public would believe the Opposition and distrust the PH government.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Cabinet decided to withdraw Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute, a treaty that establishes the ICC which investigates the four international crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
Dr Mahathir said the PH government’s decision to withdraw, just weeks after it acceded to the ICC, was made because of public confusion and accused detractors of trying to pit the royalty against the federal government.
However, Dr Mahathir stressed that his administration remained convinced that the Rome Statute is a positive international treaty that should be ratified.
Malay Mail previously prepared a quick guide on the Rome Statute, which over 120 countries or about two-thirds of the countries globally have signed on to.