PETALING JAYA: The process to ratify the Rome Statute was started eight years ago and there were factors which led to influencing the people to believe the statute will threaten the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.
"The Pakatan Harapan government was merely completing the process by ratifying it," said Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin (pic).
Former diplomat Noor Farida said this as a representative of G25 at a forum on the Rome Statute at Universiti Malaya here Saturday (April 27).
"We prepared the paper on the ratification of the Rome Statute for Cabinet and sent it to all government agencies. All the agencies then agreed except for the then-Attorney General's Chambers who was vehemently against it," said Noor Farida.
Noor Farida was the head of the Legal Department of the Foreign Ministry in 1998, and Tan Sri Gani Patail was the AG at the time.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas said the Rome Statute could not be used against the King even if the Armed Forces commits heinous crimes because he is a constitutional monarch.
Thomas cited the example of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who was asked to be prosecuted in the ICC over atrocities of the British forces in Iraq but Queen Elizabeth II was not dragged in because she is also a constitutional monarch.
Thomas said the Rome Statute deals only with the most heinous crimes and there is no way the International Criminal Court can interfere in the sovereignty of the country.
"It was a decision made eight years ago and some have changed their mind (over the Rome Statute) now. It is pure hypocrisy," said Thomas.
He also elaborated on the jurisdiction of the ICC, which doesn't cover domestic crimes.
PKR leader and former academician Dr Syed Husin Ali said that there are certain Malay Rulers who felt threatened as Malays have risen to question their position.
He said this led to the Malay Rulers to accept the explanations of the four academicians who argued that the Rome Statute will affect their sovereignty.
The Malay Rulers had based their worry over the Rome Statute based on a paper submitted by four academicians which was later leaked to the public by student activists.
Syed Husin said the feudal mentality of the Malays played a big part in supporting the arguments given by the four professors.
Emeritus Professor Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi explained that the paper presented to the Malay Rulers was baseless.
"The King was advised by the four academicians that any criminal prosecution against the LGBT community will be a ground for the King's arrest and prosecution. Homosexuality is not a crime against humanity," said Shad Saleem.
"If you have beaten someone in a bar or punched reporters, you are still okay," added Shad Saleem.
The other two speakers were former student activists Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi and Lim Wei Jiat, who agreed with the other speakers.
Asheeq lambasted the government for merely giving in to those who rattled the unity by playing up issues such as the Rome Statute.
"There must be action taken on the four for lying to the Conference of Rulers," said Asheeq.
Lim said the four academicians crossed the line when they misled the Rulers.
The public forum moderated by Kamarul Bahrin Haron was held to explain the Rome Statute, after much controversy which led to the retraction of the ratification by the government.
The organisers said the four academicians who prepared the paper for the Malay Rulers had declined invitations.
The forum was attended by about 400 people.
On April 5, Putrajaya said it would withdraw from ratifying the international treaty that covers serious crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Cabinet had decided not to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC, which governs the prosecution of perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
During the press conference then, an upset Dr Mahathir said the government "was forced" to withdraw following confusion created by those with political interests.
The Prime Minister said contrary to claims, signing the Rome Statute was not harmful nor would it affect the country's sovereignty.