PUTRAJAYA, April 5 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad today announced that Malaysia will withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) following confusion arising politically and within the society, stressing that the decision is not because the Statute is harmful to the country.
He said Malaysia, which acceded to the Rome Statute on March 4, and the instrument on accession deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the same day, can withdraw before June this year.
The decision to withdraw from the Statute was made collectively at the Cabinet meeting today, Dr Mahathir told in a press conference here.
The ICC was established in 2002 and governed by the Rome Statute.
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court, with the objective to end impunity against the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
"Can be done and action taken before June,” Dr Mahathir said on the withdrawal.
Dr Mahathir said certain quarters had claimed that if Malaysia accepted the Rome Statute, there would be contrary cases such as human rights cases happening in the country and this would lead to Malaysia losing its independence to form its own policies and laws.
"This is not true. It will be true if we did something that is deemed to be very extreme. But even if we don't sign it (the statute), if we do things that are excessive, the whole world will still turn against us. The Rome Statute only applies to us if we act in an extreme manner.
"Myanmar, for example, who did not sign the Rome Statute and took action that were too excessive, caused the world to take a serious view of the country and the United Nations also, without any referral to the statute.
Dr Mahathir said the current government was not doing anything excessive but to ensure that everyone benefits from the well-distributed share in wealth and opportunities of the country.
Dr Mahathir who was visibly upset during the press conference said he knew there was an attempt to undermine the Pakatan Harapan government and himself as prime minister by using the Rome Statute issue, that is claiming that the government had surrendered all powers to foreigners.
"I am very surprised that some people tried to make use of this signing of the Statute of Rome as evidence that this government has surrendered everything to the statute.
"There is no way they can take action against us, if, for example, the previous government 'bossku curi duit' (the previous prime minister stealing money), we take action according to the law and there is no way they can interfere," he said in apparent reference to former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"But now on this issue, they try to use it to disparage the government, especially labelling me as a traitor to my race.
"It's okay, they have already labelled me a traitor. They are the biggest traitors. When Najib stole money, sold (government) land, did all kinds of bad things, they did not say a word. They were hiding, I don't know where, but they were worried action might be taken against them," he said.
Dr Mahathir said since his government upheld the rule of law and wanted to take action against them, they brought up the Statute of Rome issue.
"This is a political issue, not a question about the law but trying to blacken the name of this government and my name. I know why, because I have been strict on money laundering. Whoever breaches the law, we don't care who they are, and we will take action. We don't care whet princeher they are or pauper. That is our stand.
"But, they have been able to create confusion in tthe minds of the people that this law negates the rights of the Malays and Rulers. It is absolute nonsense. They can't possible come and depose our King because some soldier might have shot somebody. That cannot be done," he said.
Thus, according to Dr Mahathir, the Malaysian King was not an executive or monarch, instead acts on the advice of the prime minister.
"Of course, they can come and take action against me. But for what. Am I going to kill people? Am I going to take away the privileges of the Malays? I am the one who helped the Malays more than anyone else until I was known as ' Ultra Malay'. But now they are trying to damage that image because they can make progress politically," he said.
Although some people thought that they could steal without any action taken against them if the government did not ratify the statute, Dr Mahathir said the government would take action against anyone who broke the law irrespective of who they were.
On the Rome Statute, Dr Mahathir said the government understood that it was a political move to get the Rulers to back them up.
"Of course, some members of royalty may be involved. But the whole idea is to get the royalty in Malaysia to go against this government. That is the motive. But because of this confusion and confusion among the Rulers, we made the decision not to recognise the statute.
"We will withdraw not because the Rome Statute is harmful to us, but it has raised confusion by some people, including those who have political ambitions. We know this," he added.
Dr Mahathir said the withdrawal was not because the government was against the statute but it was because of the political confusion created by 'one particular person', and move to blacken the good name of the government.