PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak today said his government had once discussed ratifying the Rome Statute but was advised by the then attorney-general (AG) that the international treaty could contravene the Federal Constitution.
The former prime minister made this clarification after AG Tommy Thomas today said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had decided on March 18, 2011 to ratify the treaty.
Thomas said this was why he had advised the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to ratify the Rome Statute, adding that doing so also had many advantages.
Najib, taking to Facebook this afternoon, said it was incumbent on a responsible government to discuss and consider signing United Nations’ treaties like the Rome Statute.
However, he said the PH government should have found out why discussions by the BN government in March 2011 on the Rome Statute did not eventually lead to its ratification.
“Surely there was a reason for this? This was because the BN government listened to and received advice from the attorney-general at the time that ratifying the Rome Statute could go against the constitution and the laws of our country,” the Pekan MP said.
The AG in 2011 was Abdul Gani Patail.
The Rome Statute led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
In 2015, the BN government had considered signing the Rome Statute for Malaysia to bring those responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine to the ICC.
However, this and other subsequent proposals made to ratify the Rome Statute never materialised.
Najib said his administration also never signed any documents for Malaysia to accede to the statute when he was in power.
But after GE14, PH decided to sign to the treaty after Thomas advised Putrajaya to do so.
Najib slammed PH over the way it announced its decision to accede to the treaty, only to do a U-turn later.
Malaysia signed the Rome Statute on March 4 and deposited it with the secretary-general of the UN the same day.
Later, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government had no choice but to quit the treaty, following criticism from the Johor palace as well as other parties which said it would undermine Malaysia’s royal institution.