Forum Panellists: What’s Behind Ruler’s Objection to Rome Statute?

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It appeared that the ruler seemed threatened by the treaty’s ratification.

Alyaa Alhadjri/Malaysiakini

A Malay ruler from a “certain southern state” became the object of debate at a forum on the Rome Statute in Kuala Lumpur today, with panellists questioning the unnamed ruler’s motives for opposing the international treaty.

Academic Syed Husin Ali questioned whether the ruler’s objection to the treaty was because of allegations on social media that his royal family was being investigated for possible crimes.

Although the ruler was never named, the audience in the standing-room-only lecture theatre appeared to intimate his identity, given that the royal figure had been a vocal and public opponent of the Pakatan Harapan government’s plans to ratify the international treaty.

Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim had openly criticised the Rome treaty, saying that the Malay rulers and the positions of Malays and Islam would no longer be relevant if Putrajaya signs it.

But at the forum today, legal and foreign affairs experts took turns to show that those arguments were baseless as constitutional monarchs were not held liable for the actions of their elected governments.

The treaty and the International Criminal Court that it creates also did not have jurisdiction over the special position of Malays or Islam.

Former diplomat and G25 member Noor Farida Ariffin also revealed how the former Barisan Nasional cabinet did not object to the treaty’s ratification and she had personally led the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s efforts to implement it.

“However, a certain royal used emotive arguments to provoke the Malays by saying the Rome Statute was against the position of the Malays, Islam and Malay rulers,” she said.

But the ruler, who Farida did not name, did not detail in what way the treaty would violate all these institutions.

“It’s a total misrepresentation of Islam because the Rome treaty is against war crimes and genocide. Islam does not condone any of these crimes,” Farida said at the forum.

Syed Husin, who is a former senator, said it appeared that “the southern ruler” seemed threatened by the treaty’s ratification.

“I myself have asked why is he feeling threatened because I am from his state and he is also my ruler. I have no answer to this but something I recently read of social media provides a clue.”

Syed Husin then proceeded to read out a Facebook post titled “end of the road” that claimed to describe efforts by a prominent human rights lawyer based in London who had been documenting and investigating abuses and crimes allegedly perpetrated by the Johor royal family.

“I hope that this article is not true. But if it is, this may be the reason why some people are afraid of the Rome Statute,” he said. – TMI

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