Govt wanted to avoid clash with royals, Anwar says on Rome Statute withdrawal

Anwar Ibrahim says Putrajaya’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute is a sign of respect for the royal institution.

SEREMBAN: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said Putrajaya’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute was to avoid a confrontation with the Conference of Rulers, even though the treaty would not erode the royal institution.

“I spoke to Dr Mahathir. He didn’t want to prolong the issue, so he withdrew from the statute,” Anwar said, referring to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad at a ceramah last night.

The Rome Statute is an international agreement that created the International Criminal Court (ICC), which serves to complement existing laws in a state to prosecute individuals who commit international crimes.

The Port Dickson MP also said the government’s decision to withdraw from the statute was a sign of respect for the royal institution, despite their differing stance on the matter.

“So, we are willing to withdraw the statute to alleviate the situation and clear up any confusion.

“We don’t want people to think we are at loggerheads with the Conference of Rulers,” he said.

Anwar’s explanation comes in the wake of his revelation that Mahathir was referring to a particular “personality” from a royal family when stating that opponents to the Rome Statute were trying to pit the Malay rulers against the federal government.

This was after Mahathir said Putrajaya’s decision to withdraw from the treaty was because of smear campaigns by “certain quarters” who had politicised the issue.

Mahathir also said the withdrawal was due to the confusion of “one particular person who wants to be free to beat up people”.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Malaysia withdrew from ratifying the statute because there was a possibility of the issue being manipulated to the extent that people would take to the streets.

He described the Cabinet’s decision as a “political” move done for fear of a coup d’etat bid spurred on by powers behind the scenes.