KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was perplexed by the expanded royal assent needed to appoint a new chief justice, which has held up Tan Sri Richard Malanjum’s replacement.
The prime minister said he previously thought royal assent was needed only from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, but said he has since been informed that the Conference of Malay Rulers was now also involved.
In an interview with English daily The Star published today, he said Pakatan Harapan (PH) has made its choice on the vacancy but has yet to receive confirmation from the royalty.
“I always imagined that the King is the person who must approve all senior appointments but somehow or rather, there is the reference to the Conference of Rulers. Now, it is not just the King but it also has to go to the (Malay) Rulers.
“I don’t know what it means. The decision made cannot be altered unless there is a valid reason. We have made a decision (on the chief justice) and sent it to the King. At this moment, I still have not received any confirmation of the candidacy,” he told The Star.
On the recent PH’s withdrawal from ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Dr Mahathir said it left him disappointed as he said it was the first attempt at creating conflict between the monarchy and the new federal government.
The PH chairman said he felt he had been unjustly “blackened” by the move, and said that the issue could have been rectified by seeking clarification from the government on any confusion.
“Part of the task I am undertaking is to solve the failure to follow the Constitution, but, of course, I have been blackened by other things such as (what was) done on Rome Statute. So that I would not be influential, (and) so that I can be overthrown. This is ongoing.
“We should actually take action over such things but there again, we have a problem of implementation because the agencies of the government are often reluctant to do anything. They look the other way.
“I was upset because this is the first time somebody tried to make use of the Rulers in order to frustrate the government. That is very wrong. If they have any problems they can ask us. We can explain what Rome Statute is all about. Instead, they somehow managed to have a meeting not consistent with the Constitution,” the Star quoted him as saying.
Dr Mahathir said the Rome Statute critics trafficked in misinformation and succeeded in influencing others as well.
Reiterating that the Constitution and Malaysian laws remain supreme, the Langkawi MP said the ICC could only intervene when local laws did not apply such as in the event of genocide or mass imprisonment,
“We needed to ensure that the people continued to support us. For the time being, we had to do away with the Rome Statute,” he said.