AG: It’s PM and Cabinet who wage war, not Agong

The Attorney-General, Tommy Thomas, said those vulnerable to prosecution are the PM and Cabinet.

KUALA LUMPUR: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas today said that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, though the supreme commander of the armed forces, would not be held responsible for any decision by the prime minister, the Cabinet and defence ministry on a declaration of war.

Thomas said this in reference to a British inquiry into the Iraq war where former British prime minister Tony Blair was called up instead of Queen Elizabeth II, the constitutional monarch and the commander of the armed forces.

“So, if war is declared, although the Agong is the supreme commander of armed forces, the decision to go to war is always made by the prime minister, the Cabinet and the minister of defence and, operationally, the general who runs the war or the admiral in the navy.

“If Malaysia commits a war crime, the people who are vulnerable to ICC (International Criminal Court) prosecution will be the prime minister, the Cabinet, the minister of defence, the generals but never the King because he is a constitutional monarch,” he said at a public forum on Malaysia and the Rome Statute.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would withdraw from ratifying the Rome Statute because of political confusion among the people.

The ICC is aimed at ending immunity to the most serious criminal offenders considered a threat to the international community involving genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression, such as invasion.

The forum featured prominent panellists such as G25 member Noor Farida Ariffin, constitutional law expert Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi and lawyer Lim Wei Jiet.

Responding to a question from the floor during the Q&A session, on why he could not convince the Conference of Rulers to support the government decision, Thomas said that he was not in the same room with four academicians who presented a memorandum on the Rome Statute to the Rulers.

“If the five of us were in the room, the way the dialogue would happen is each of us would have commented on the other, and if I heard the arguments of the other four, I would have the chance to comment on them and they have the chance to comment on mine…but that opportunity did not happen,” he said.

The four academics have been partly blamed for allegedly misleading the Conference of Rulers on the Rome Statute with a biased paper on the treaty.

Organisers of today’s forum said the four academics were not present today although they had been invited to be among the panellists.