The government’s decision to withdraw from ratifying the Rome Statute gives a troubling impression that the country is ruled by racial and religious sentiments, says the G25 group of eminent Malays.
“It brings to question the new government’s commitment to reforms,” spokesperson for the Muslim moderates’ group Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin was quoted as saying.
“This is the second time that the government has done a U-turn, the first being the withdrawal from its decision to accede to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).
“This is troubling because it creates the impression that Malaysia is ruled by racial and religious sentiments, not by universal standards of justice,” G25 said in a statement on Sunday (April 7).
Former ambassador Noor Farida, who had helped Wisma Putra prepare the instrument of accession to the Rome Statute, said Putrajaya failed to have a plan to answer the “totally ridiculous” claims of those against Malaysia signing the international treaty, The Malaysian Insight reported.
She said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should have done more to properly inform the rulers and “ignorant Malays” about the statute that governs the International Criminal Court.
Noor Farida, who once served as director-general at the Research, Treaties and International Law Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Barisan Nasional administration, said PH has caved in to the campaign by opposition politicians, and Islamists and right-wing Malay groups because Putrajaya has no plan to counter their narrative.
“They had no communication plan to inform and educate the rulers and the Malays,” she was quoted as saying.
According to The Malaysian Insight, Noor Farida sounded upset.
“Upset is putting it mildly, I’m very, very disappointed”.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had blamed “political confusion” caused by those with political agendas, pinpointing a member of the royalty without naming the person.
Noor Farida said ratification of the treaty will not affect the position of the country’s constitutional monarch, in the “unlikely event our soldiers commit mass killings or the country commits aggression”.
She said even though the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the supreme commander of the armed forces, he is shielded by virtue of being a nominal head as a constitutional monarch, with no executive powers.
“The Agong does not give direct commands to them (the army) and he gets his advice from the prime minister. (And) I don’t think our Agong will ever order our armed forces to commit mass killings.”
Noor Farida said the claims and arguments of those against the Rome Statute were “totally ridiculous” to begin with.
“How can they say it is against Islam? Is Islam against the four core international crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression – that the Rome Statute was established to tackle?
“Is joining the rest of the world to say, ‘we are also against genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression’ against the royalty and the Malays?”
Noor Farida said such claims about the Rome Statute was akin to saying that the Malays, Muslims, Islam and the royalty are supportive of war crimes and genocide.
“They are ridiculing Islam and totally misinterpreting the Quran by saying Islam supports mass killings.”
The opposition, are politicising the whole issue just to “work up the ignorant Malays” on race and religion so as to topple the present government.”
Noor Farida urged Putrajaya to “overcome its fears” of losing Malay support and to launch an information blitz on the importance of international treaties.
“I hope when the furore dies down, they then go on the information blitz. Counter the opposition’s narrative. If the Malays are duped, explain it to them.
“Go to the rulers. Get the support of the Conference of Rulers.
“The government needs a good communication plan as it needs to get them (royalty) all behind the ratification.”
She also believed “nothing will happen” if the government had stood its ground and on its decision to ratify the statute.
“I hope they give it a rethink.”