In Bar Council’s Rome Statute forum, Shafee claims he was part of pioneer researchers on the treaty

Lawyer Tan Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah speaks during the Bar Council’s public forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall May 4, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Lawyer Tan Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah speaks during the Bar Council’s public forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall May 4, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah today revealed that he along with a pioneer group from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were the ones who initiated extensive studies concerning the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Shafee, during his query at a forum on the Rome Statute organised by the Malaysian Bar Council today, revealed that the ICC’s first president had paid a visit to Malaysia during his time as a member of Suhakam from 2003 to 2009.

“We invited Philip Kirsch, he was the first president of ICC, as we wanted to hear their point of view, so he came with a team and we studied the entire issues surrounding of ICC.

“We studied it first and weighed the pros and cons, then invited people from the public and even the Parliament who provided us with their views.

“It was not initiated by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, that’s rubbish, Suhakam started it,” he said.

Shafee was among some 50 over participants at the forum today at the Tan Sri Jeffery Cheah Hall of the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, which had a panel consisting of Attorney General Tommy Thomas, constitutional Expert Gurdial Singh Nijar, veteran politician Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, and G25 movement’s lawyer Surendra Ananth, moderated by senior lawyer Datuk Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari.

The forum titled ‘The Rome Statute Pull-out; Controversies and Implications: Where Do We Go from Here?’, spoke on issues pertaining to the Pakatan Harapan government’s decision to retreat from acceding to the international treaty.

Shafee also offered advice to the Bar Council and the AG’s Chambers in his statement, saying they as legal and constitutional experts should go on the ground and engage more with the public and the Rulers, to avoid further misunderstanding.

He said if they had engaged more with people the current situation and general acceptance of the statute would surely differ.

“So why not you engage with the rulers first, tell them, they are only affected if you are rogue; no Sultan will tell you, I am objecting, because we said only if you are rogue, that privilege is taken away.

“If it is studied properly, engage with the public, engage with the rulers, engage with these people and explain to them, if you engage with them properly i can assure you, you will sign (the treaty),” he said.

The comment received a response from Gurdial, who commended the fact that Suhakam were the pioneers in carrying our research on the treaty, but said the limited powers afforded to the commission leaves them with the ability only to recommend moves to the government.

He added that his point could be proven in the most recent investigations of the missing Pastor Koh, of which he was part of, where recommendations presented of findings pointing to an enforced disappearance has yet to see any action being taken on it.

Shafee then stepped out of the forum right after his query was answered, having previously mentioned the need to attend to a client in Kajang in need of medical assistance.