Disappointed AG wanted to debate anti Rome Statute academics

Disappointed AG wanted to debate anti Rome Statute academics

KUALA LUMPUR: AG Tommy Thomas was disappointed that he was not able to debate with the four academics when they advised the Malay rulers against the Rome Statute.

He told a forum that he and the academics had apparently briefed the Conference of Rulers separately on April 2, just days before the government decided to withdraw from the international treaty.

He also confirmed he was the sole representative from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to explain the legal aspects of the treaty.

“The fact is I spent 45 minutes explaining the legal position to the informal session of Conference of Rulers, and the minister of foreign affairs joined me and he had political aspects about it,” he said.

Thomas confirmed that he was unaware that the four academics would also separately brief the Malay rulers.

“I certainly did not know whether the group of four went before me or after me,” he said.

Thomas said that while he accepted that the Conference of Rulers was entitled to get as much feedback on the treaty as it wants, he wished he had a chance to debate with the academics when they made their presentation.

“Of course I accept the Conference of Rulers or anybody in Malaysia is entitled to as much legal representation as possible and to get the views of as many lawyers as possible.

“But what was disappointing was that we did not have a chance —- because I was the only lawyer representing the government — (to) debate with the four,” he said.

“I say that because what it means is if there were five of us in the room, the way the dialogue would have happened is that each of us would have commented on the other.

“And if I have heard the arguments of the other four, I would have a chance to comment on them. And likewise the professors would have a chance to comment on mine. So that opportunity did not happen in the conference,” he said.

Four individuals were reportedly called to explain the treaty, namely Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, and with Cabinet’s permission: Thomas, Chief of the Armed Forces General Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, and Universiti Teknologi Mara’s deputy vice-chancellor and the dean of its Faculty of Law Professor Datuk Dr Rahmat Mohamad.

Rahmat was one of the four academics who were said to have prepared a paper to the Malay rulers, with the executive summary of the paper later leaked by nine student activists.

The other three academics who drafted the paper are 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.

In the document, they warned among other things that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) may be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as he is the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.

Their arguments were roundly criticised in the forum today as being intellectually dishonest, with various legal experts clarifying that the Agong would not face such risks of prosecution due to Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system where the King is merely the nominal supreme commander.

Universiti Malaya’s Emeritus Professor Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi also clarified that he had not attended the informal briefing.

“Please allow me to clarify one piece of news that has been going around that was that I was present along with the AG at the meeting of the Majlis Raja-Raja.

“I’m just a law teacher, an ordinary law teacher. I don’t have the opportunity to be present in the Maljis Raja-Raja together with the Attorney-General,” he said.

Malaysia had to withdraw its accession to the Rome Statute after receiving objections