‘Morally despicable’ to oppose ratification of Rome Statute, say groups

The academics argued that the YDPA’s role as the supreme commander of armed forces is not simply symbolic or ceremonial, and fulfills the Statute’s Article 28(a) as a military commander with 'effective command and control.' — Picture by  Azneal Ishak
The academics argued that the YDPA’s role as the supreme commander of armed forces is not simply symbolic or ceremonial, and fulfills the Statute’s Article 28(a) as a military commander with 'effective command and control.' — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — It is unbelievable and “morally despicable” for any individual or groups to try and oppose the ratification of the Rome Statute, civil society groups have said.

This comes following an alleged leaked paper by academics to the Conference of Rulers, which claimed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had effective command of the armed forces as its supreme commander, and therefore may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a joint statement signed by 22 groups, it was pointed out that the ICC is the final defence line to the victims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

“The withdrawal of Malaysia, a country that has strongly stood in solidarity with the sufferings of minorities in countries like Myanmar, Bosnia and Palestine from the ICC rings hollow to Malaysia’s condemnation towards the atrocities against the Rohingyas as we do not have a moral positioning and international instruments to even suggest that a crime against humanity has occurred.

“Despite having the government’s machinery at its disposal, the PH government decided to surrender the aspirations of a New Malaysia to provocations spelled out by immature parties instead of disseminating the correct narrative to the people,” the statement said.

The groups added that they were appalled with Putrajaya’s failure to maintain a strong position to the questions of human rights and humanity, easily giving in to the voices of “vested interests”.

“This is a lesson the Malaysian government should have quickly grasped soon after the racially stirred up ICERD commotion. There should not be another retraction of ratifications, laws and policies due to prejudicial religious and racial politics.”

The statement also pointed out that the treaty did not impact rulers as in the context of Malaysia, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of State but not the Head of Government

“Our system of Constitutional Monarchy is such that His Majesty is not operationally responsible for any military decisions. Hence any allegations that the signing of such treaties would impede the powers of the monarch are false. Furthermore, Islam or the Malay position would not be threatened in the signing and ratification of this treaty,” they said.

The groups also condemned any attempts made by any parties to “undemocratically” unseat the democratically elected government and Prime Minister.

Among the 22 NGOs who signed the joint statement are G25, Bersih, Sisters in Islam, Aliran and Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK).

Yesterday, a group of student activists leaked the alleged executive summary of a briefing by four academics to the Conference of Rulers that ultimately led to Putrajaya withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute.

The academics argued that the YDPA’s role as the supreme commander of armed forces is not simply symbolic or ceremonial, and fulfills the Statute’s Article 28(a) as a military commander with “effective command and control.”

The assertion was made despite Wisma Putra’s clarification to the YDPA that he cannot be held responsible for the four core international crimes covered by the statute — genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression — as the legal responsibility lies with the prime minister and the Cabinet.

To prove their arguments that the ICC could act against the monarchy, the academics drew parallels with the last German emperor Wilhelm II and Emperor Hirohito of Japan. Both were instrumental as war leaders in World War I and World War II, respectively.

The paper was purportedly prepared by Universiti Teknologi Mara’s deputy vice-chancellor and dean of Faculty of Law Prof Datuk Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University of Malaysia’s law lecturer Assoc Prof Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s law lecturers Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi.

Malay Mail is currently seeking comments from the four academics.

On Friday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government was forced to bow out due to political pressure from opponents who spread unnecessary fear and confusion in public.

He also said critics of the Rome Statute wanted to trigger a row between the country’s monarchy and the new government, accusing them of engaging in a political move “to get the rulers to back them up.”