New Suhakam chief faces flak over Rome Statute protest

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An MP has urged Rahmat Mohamad, the new chairman of the human rights commission Suhakam, to explain his stance against the Rome Statute before accepting the position.


Rahmat, a professor of law at Universiti Teknologi Mara, is reported to have co-authored a paper in 2019 which convinced the Conference of Rulers to reject ratification of the Rome Statute, by which Malaysia would accede to the International Criminal Court.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said under normal circumstances the chairman of a national human rights institution should “inspire” human rights, but Rahmat did not.


“His (Rahmat) appointment already started with a controversy when he wrote the letter advising rulers against the Rome Statute,” he told FMT.

The Rome Statute set up the International Criminal Court which prosecutes those who commit international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

Santiago added that the chairman must clarify how not ratifying the treaty compromises human rights and race relations in Malaysia.

“That will set the standard or tone of his tenure as chairman of Suhakam,” he said.

Santiago also said that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob must also clarify the basis of appointing the new members of Suhakam, as most of them had not been known to champion human rights.

Andrew Khoo of the Bar Council’s constitutional law committee, said all eyes would be on the newly appointed commissioners considering the controversy surrounding some of its members.

He said the continuation of Suhakam’s A-status would depend very much on the calibre of the commission and how well the new commissioners would be able to build upon the work of previous commissioners.

Yesterday, Ismail announced seven other commissioners that will serve the commission for the next three years from June 22.

Among them is Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, reappointed after having become Suhakam’s first child commissioner in 2019.

The other six are:

  • former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan;
  • former director-general of Jakim, Nordin Ibrahim;
  • anaesthesiologist Dr Chew Chee Ming, a member of the Malaysian Medical Council;
  • former Sabah attorney-general Mary @ Mariati Robert;
  • lawyer Hasnal Rezua Merican Habib Merican, a former legal adviser to Barisan Nasional; and
  • lawyer Nazira Abdul Rahim, a director of Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Dr Chew and Mariati represent Sarawak and Sabah respectively. – FMT

Earlier report:

Jul 1, Rome Statute opponent to chair Suhakam