Fix economy first instead of focusing on Rome Statute, says Najib

Former prime minister Najib Razak.

PETALING JAYA: The focus of the country and the government should be shifted from the Rome Statute to the worsening state of the country’s economy and the promises yet to be fulfilled by the Pakatan Harapan government, says former prime minister Najib Razak.

He said he is disappointed with Putrajaya’s focus on debating the controversial Rome Statute, saying there are other issues worth spending time on.

“Why are we so desperate to debate this issue now to the point of fighting among ourselves, within the PH government and the Malay Rulers?” he asked in a Facebook posting this afternoon.

He said acceding to the Rome Statute was also not among the many promises made by the PH government in GE14.

Yesterday, a public forum called Malaysia and the Rome Statute was held at Universiti Malaya. A group of NGOs organised it to throw more light on the controversial topic that has drawn in the Rulers.

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.

Supporters of the Rome Statute had stated that Malaysia would have been able to take the case of the Malaysia Airlines flight which was shot down in Ukraine, to the ICC if the government had signed up to the treaty in the years before.

In his Facebook post today, Najib said non-member states of the international treaty cannot be hauled up to the ICC.

“Three of the world’s biggest powers — the United States, Russia and China — have not ratified the Rome Statute.

“Russia cannot be brought to the ICC over the MH17 tragedy because it does not recognise the ICC.

“What is the importance, advantage and benefit for Malaysia to ratify the Rome Statute then?”

MH17 was shot down over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people onboard, roughly two-thirds of whom were Dutch.

An international investigation led by the Netherlands later concluded that the passenger jet – en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – was brought down by a Russian surface-to-air missile. But Moscow has denied any involvement.

Ratification of the Rome Statute had resulted in a political deadlock between the PH government and the Conference of Rulers, the Johor palace, particularly.

Although it initially announced it had acceded to the treaty, Putrajaya later decided to withdraw following claims that the treaty would allow prosecution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as supreme commander of the armed forces.

Najib yesterday said his government once discussed ratifying the statute but was advised by the then attorney-general (AG) that the international treaty could contravene the Federal Constitution.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas yesterday 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.

“If Malaysia commits a war crime, the people who are vulnerable to ICC prosecution will be the prime minister, the Cabinet, the defence minister and the generals, but never the King because he is a constitutional monarch.”