Prominent civil society groups dismayed by Rome Statute withdrawal

07 Apr 2019 / 18:58 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Several quarters have expressed regret over the decision by the government to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The G25, a group of prominent former civil servants, said it was disappointed that the government had yielded to pressure instead of ratifying the treaty.

“This (U-turn) is troubling. It creates the impression that Malaysia is ruled by racial and religious sentiments, not by universal standards of justice,” it said in a statement. “It also brings into question the new government’s commitment to reforms.”

The G25 was commenting on a statement by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah that the move by the Cabinet to reverse an earlier decision to ratify the treaty was to prevent further manipulation of the issue.

Saifuddin had said that the decision was made out of fear of a possible coup d’etat by a “deep state” that could be out to topple the government.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there were “people with vested interests” attempting to pit the Malay rulers against him and the Pakatan Harapan government if his administration proceeded to ratify the Rome Statute.

The G25 also urged the government to avoid shelving the plans to ratify the statute altogether. “The matter should be discussed and debated at all levels of society and then brought up to Parliament for a final decision,” it said.

Former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Lim Chee Wee described the decision for the country to withdraw from the treaty as “a great shame”. He said it was most disturbing that it did so on account of a purported coup.

“We should support this government on this issue and oppose any force that has pushed it to withdraw its (decision to) ratify the treaty,” he told theSun.

Nonetheless, he added, more could be done to educate the people on the issue.

The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) said that despite the decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, it remained confident that the government would continue to uphold and practise human rights values.

Its secretary-general Ivy Josiah said she was baffled that the detractors were still insisting that the treaty would be detrimental to the interests of the Malay rulers and a threat to the special position of Malays and Islam despite numerous articles to the contrary.

According to Saifuddin, there was the possibility that Rome Statute would be manipulated by a “deep state” to the extent that people would go to the streets. (A deep state is a form of secret government made up of covert networks of power operating independent of the country’s legitimate leadership for its own agenda. These could include the intelligence services, secret police and the armed forces.)

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