Students leak ‘memo to Rulers’ that derailed Rome Statute

One of 10 images purportedly of a document submitted to the Malay Rulers, posted by student activists on Facebook.

PETALING JAYA: A group of student activists have leaked images of a document purportedly submitted to the Malay Rulers that they say may have derailed the government’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The activists said they were releasing the document in order to spark a debate on its contents and in support of a petition urging the government to ratifiy the Rome Statute.

The images posted by the students purportedly show the contents of a 10-page memorandum prepared by four academicians that outlines the roles and functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his liability under the Rome Statute.

The four authors claim that accession to the Rome Statute would make the Yang di-Pertuan Agong liable to prosecution at the International Criminal Court in his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

They contend that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong holds operational responsibilities as Supreme Commander, beyond that of a figurehead or ceremonial role.

The document gave several examples of royal Heads of State who would have faced liability for war crimes. These included Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany in the First World War and Emperor Hirohito of Japan in the Second World War.

However, the student activists contend that the examples were unrealistic and noted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as a constitutional monarch acted only on the advice of the prime minister.

Student activist Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi.

The Facebook posting bears the names of six young activists: Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, Ainina Sofia Adnan, Nurhuda Ramli, Suhail Wan Azahar, Ahmad Taqiyuddin Shahriman, Wong Yan Ke, Chong Kar Yan, Nik Azura Nik Nasron, and Siti Nurizzah Mohd Tazali.

They said that the memorandum was prepared by Prof Rahmat bin Mohamad, Associate Professor Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, Dr Fareed Mohd Hassan, and Hisham Hanapi, and submitted to the Conference of Rulers on April 2.

According to the document, Malaysia accession to the Rome Statute would have no impact on an international investigation into the downing of Malayia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2016.

Supporters of the Rome Statute have said that Malaysia would have been able to take the MH17 case to the ICC if the government had signed up to the treaty in the years before.

The documents also said the decision to withdraw from the treaty would have no impact on Malaysia’s stance on the Rohingya crisis and even as a member of the ICC, Malaysia could not force the ICC to take action on Myanmar. “Only Myanmar can do so.”

FMT is seeking confirmation from the four academics and from the student activists.

On Friday, prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government was withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute, which came after protests made by the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

Ratification would entail making changes to Malaysian law to conform with the requrements of the Rome Statute, which allows prosecution of those who commit international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity such as enforced disappearance of individuals by a state or agents of the state.

The ratification would have come into effect on June 1.