Absent anti-Rome Statute criticised for intellectual dishonesty

Absent anti-Rome Statute criticised for intellectual dishonesty

KUALA LUMPUR: The four law lecturers who prepared a paper to warn the Malay rulers of the alleged danger of Malaysia’s acceptance of the Rome Statute were today criticised in a forum as being “intellectually dishonest” and having misled the royalty.

The four academics are Universiti Teknologi Mara’s deputy vice-chancellor and the dean of its Faculty of Law Professor Datuk Dr Rahmat Mohamad, International Islamic University of Malaysia’s law lecturer Assoc Prof Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s (USIM) law lecturers Fareed Mohd Hassan and Hisham Hanapi.

They were invited to attend the forum but did not turn up for the event.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia law graduate Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi, who was one of the nine student activists who leaked the paper, bluntly criticised the four academics’ paper.

He thanked them for writing the paper which led to an intellectual discussion regarding the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, but criticised as “stupid”.

Asheeq Ali said the academics had argued in their paper that Malaysia’s prosecution of those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community or based on sexual orientation would be considered a crime against humanity, even though that was not what was stated in the Rome Statute.

“I say they lied to the Conference of Rulers, that’s why I want action taken against them,” he said, blaming them for the “confusion” regarding the Rome Statute.

“I respect them to the maximum level, but we should stand with integrity and we should stand with honest opinion, and not together with such stupidity and dishonesty even though they are professors,” he said.

Asheeq Ali was one of the panellists on the forum titled “Malaysia dan Statut Rom” (Malaysia and the Rome Statute), with his fellow panellists similarly criticising the four academics’ arguments.

Lawyer Lim Wei Jiet acknowledged genuine differing academic opinion and accepted that the four lecturers’ argument of the International Criminal Court’s alleged bias against African states was debatable.

“But on the other end of the spectrum, there is just pure intellectual dishonesty, where you misrepresent the law, where you interpret the law and mutilate it beyond recognition, when you put forward false equivalences. That is a red line that you should never cross,” he said in the forum.

Lim went on to rebut four points in the four academics’ paper, including their failure to highlight that a Court of Appeal judgment which they were citing was merely a dissenting judgment and not the majority ruling in a case.

The minority judgment was on the opinion that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is expected to play an effective and meaningful role as the country’s supreme commander, a point which critics of the Rome Statute has relied on when voicing fears that the King could be subject to prosecution at the International Criminal Court over crimes such as war crimes.

Lim also claimed the academics were misleading when citing the examples of King Wilhelm II of Germany and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito to show that the Malay rulers would be vulnerable to prosecution if Malaysia accepts the Rome Statute. The two rulers are absolute monarchs unlike Malaysia’s constitutional monarchs.

Lim stressed that intellectual honesty and academic integrity must be upheld, having noted: “What I want to point out is we are not clamping down freedom of speech of these academics. We are not saying we want to quash dissenting opinions.”

Saying that he respects lecturers, Lim noted the necessity to raise the criticism against the four: “Because if we don’t speak out and point out against these belligerent academics who are misrepresenting and jeopardising the academic community as a whole, you do the academic community a disservice,” he said.

Meanwhile, met after the forum, Asheeq Ali told Malay Mail that an invitation letter was sent via email separately to the four academics, and that two had replied to say they would not attend due to “personal commitments”.

He confirmed the two others have to date not responded to the invitation letter.

Asheeq Ali said he wanted to shift the focus away from the four to the debate on the Rome Statute, The whole point here is the Rome Statute being manipulated, whatever the four has done, we need to address whatever points that have been manipulated.”

Prior to today’s forum, Shamrahayu and Fareed reportedly declined the invitation.

Earlier on Attorney General Tommy Thomas said that he was disappointed as he did not have a chance to debate the four anti-Rome Statute law academics.

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