The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute led a group of student activists to expose a briefing by a group of academics to the Conference of Rulers.
Gabungan Pembebasan Akademik leader Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi told the Malay Mail that he and eight others decided to leak the briefing’s executive summary after Putrajaya failed to directly address the misinformation which led to public confusion.
“Specifically, the leak took place because there was no accountability by the government to solve the confusion and to encourage public discourse for education purposes.
“Now the leak has triggered various academics to come in and provide their views on the matter to an extent educate the public at the same time,” he said.
Besides Asheeq Ali, the other eight students involved in the leak are Ainina Sofia Adnan, Nurhuda Ramli, Suhail Wan Azahar, Ahmad Taqiyuddin Shahriman, Wong Yan Ke, Chong Kar Yan, Nik Azura Nik Nasron and Siti Nurizzah Mohd Tazali.
On Sunday, the nine student activists leaked the executive summary which was allegedly presented at the Conference of Rulers on April 2.
In the document, four academics warned the rulers that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as he is the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.
The paper was allegedly 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.
Acknowledging that the group took a big risk by leaking the paper, Asheeq Ali said to date no party or even the academics themselves have disputed the document’s credibility.
“If it is wrong, they (academics) could have denied it. Since the leak, there has been no denial or a single word from the academics who released the paper.
“So if I was being untruthful, I am ready to be sued in court,” he said.
A day before the leak, the group launched an online petition urging the government to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute for the sake of those who died in the MH17 tragedy.
Their petition stated that the Rome Statute was needed as the perpetrators behind the 2014 shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft could be brought before the ICC.
“Until now, the family members of all the MH17 passengers and crew have not had justice. MH17 was shot down using a Russian guided missile and when Malaysia tried to bring this matter up with the UN, it was vetoed and kicked out by the biggest power, Russia itself.
“So who will provide justice for all the 298 lives lost […]? The answer is the ICC. It has been five years now, so why have the criminals still not faced the ICC?
“The answer is because Malaysia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute,” the petition read.
The petition also added that Malaysians “need not fear” the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong being brought before the ICC as Malaysia has no history of crimes against humanity.
In the event such crimes take place, the king’s position was protected by the constitution as a constitutional monarch who acted in accordance with the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet.
“We urge the Conference of Rulers and the Malaysian government to give way so that the Rome Statute can be ratified by Malaysia. We also urge those with bad intentions to cease manipulating the ICC justice system.
“We, nine youngsters, urge and plead with the Malaysian people to stand with us in fighting for justice for the victims of MH17 before more lives are victimised and sacrificed,” stated the students’ petition.
Asheeq Ali said response to the leak was expected but he added he did not expect a former Cabinet minister to disagree with the withdrawal.
Earlier this week, Gua Musang MP and Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah suggested that the Conference of Rulers may have been “ill-advised” about the Rome Statute.
However, Asheeq Ali said he was surprised that not a single representative from the federal government has initiated contact with the group over the leak since Sunday.
“If they are really keen to solve the confusion and educate the public and stop this whole debacle, they should not sweep the Rome Statute under the carpet.
“So we will continuously advocate for the Rome Statute because the government seems uninterested for now,” he said.