Rome Statute forum biased? Then tell the four academics to turn up, say students

Coalition for Academic Freedom’s Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi (pic) said those who label the forum as biased should urge the four academics who had advised Malay rulers on the International Criminal Court statute to attend the forum. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Coalition for Academic Freedom’s Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi (pic) said those who label the forum as biased should urge the four academics who had advised Malay rulers on the International Criminal Court statute to attend the forum. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — A group of student activists has dismissed claim that its forum on Rome Statute on April 27 is allegedly biased for not featuring panelists who dissented against the ratification of the treaty.

The group said it will only reserve the spot for the four academics who had advised Malay rulers on the International Criminal Court statute — but have refused to join the forum.

“We will still not replace their slots with others. Up until the event, we will wait for them because it was their opinions that were accepted by the Conference of Rulers, not the opinions of others.

“To those who label us as biased, up to you. But after labelling us, please urge for these four to attend [the forum],” said Coalition for Academic Freedom’s Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi.

The forum will be held on 9.30am on April 27 in the Tun Suffian Auditorium in the University of Malaya’s Faculty of Law.

“Those who preach academic freedom must also be subjected to academic accountability,” he added.

The forum is organised by nine students who had leaked the alleged executive summary of a briefing by four academics to the Conference of Rulers, which then ostensibly led to Putrajaya’s withdrawal.

Two of the four academics, International Islamic University of Malaysia’s law lecturer Assoc Prof Shamrahayu Ab Aziz and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s (USIM) law lecturer Fareed Mohd Hassan, who had drafted the paper were invited to be panellists, but they had both declined.

Another two, Universiti Teknologi Mara’s deputy vice-chancellor and dean of Faculty of Law Prof Datuk Rahmat Mohamad and USIM law lecturer Hisham Hanapi, have yet to respond to the invitation.

In comparison, Attorney General Tommy Thomas had confirmed his attendance as a panellist.

The group also said it hopes Tunku Ismail Ibrahim will attend the event, saying the Johor crown prince’s alleged confusion had aggravated the backlash against the treaty.

In the document leaked last week, the four academics warned the Malay rulers that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may be prosecuted by the ICC as the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.

Prior to the leak, 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.

The other eight students involved are Ainina Sofia Adnan, Nurhuda Ramli, Suhail Wan Azahar, Ahmad Taqiyuddin Shahriman, Wong Yan Ke, Chong Kar Yan, Nik Azura Nik Nasron dan Siti Nurizzah Mohd Tazali.