PUTRAJAYA: About one month after ratifying the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC), the government has decided to rescind its membership.
The withdrawal was announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the decision was made in today’s Cabinet meeting.
“We have ratified the Rome Statute (on March 4) and have until June for us to withdraw. We will act before June,” he told reporters.
He said the decision to withdraw was due to the confusion the issue had created in the country and not because claims that the move could harm Malaysia.
“I am surprised to see how some people had used the Rome Statute issue to undermine and smear this government.
“It is a coward move by certain quarters who have politicised the issue (on the ratification of the Rome Statute) and not because it is the question of the law,” the prime minister said.
Dr Mahathir said he was targeted because he had been very strict about money-laundering and the fact that it was not easy to oust him.
“Whoever breaks the law, doesn’t matter if you are prince or pauper, we will take action against you,” said Dr Mahathir, who clearly looked annoyed when making the announcement.
Asked why he seemed unhappy, the prime minister said he viewed the actions taken by some people with regards to the Rome Statute as an attempt to tarnish his image.
“They know they cannot oust me easily. They have to paint a bad picture of me. This is like the old time when I was called 'Maha zalim', 'Maha thi's and 'Maha that'.
“This is politics.... (with) an attempt to get the rulers involved so that they can get a (political) leverage, and even try to get the rulers to sign something against me.
“And for that, I have to tell them to their faces, that we will not going to do it (acceding to the Rome Statute).
“This is not because we are afraid of them. But because they use this (as political tool) on people who are ignorant,” he said.
On whether one of those who had objected to the Rome Statute involved a royalty from the southern states, the prime minister said it was anybody’s guess.
Dr Mahathir said ratifying the Rome Statute would not deny the Malay rights and undermine the country’s sovereignty.
“It is the politics of this country of which sometimes people are easily misled by emotions.
“And, what we are doing is against our own interest. So I’d like to say to these cowards who during the last regime saw (ex-Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) stealing money and doing all kind of things and they said nothing.
“A lot of cowards who want to benefit from Najib’s misadministration so that they too can benefit.”
Dr Mahathir also explained in length that ratifying the Rome Statute would not stop Malaysia from coming up with its own policies and laws, or allowing others to dictate what the country could and could not do.
He said the Rome Statute would only affect Malaysia if the country acted excessively, citing extreme examples like seizing properties of the non-Malays or rounding up the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered) people and killing them.
“Even if we don’t sign the Rome Statute, if Malaysia acts excessively, the world will condemn us,” he said.
It was reported Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute had reflected its commitment in combating international crimes for global peace and security.
The ICC was established in 2002 and is governed by the Rome Statute.
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court, with the objective to end impunity against the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.