KUALA LUMPUR • Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has claimed that "people with vested interests" were attempting to pit the Malay rulers against him and the Pakatan Harapan government should his administration ratify a human rights pact called the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Tun Dr Mahathir had last Friday said his government will not ratify the treaty due to confusion over the issue.
The Rome Statute established the ICC, the first treaty-based international criminal court. Its powers are limited to only four crimes - genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression. Dubbed the "court of last resort", the ICC prosecutes only individuals, not groups or countries.
While Malaysia had earlier indicated that it would ratify the treaty, Malay groups, including opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia, along with several Malay rulers, were against the ratification, claiming that this would usurp the powers of the sultans and affect the country's sovereignty.
As at March 18 this year, 122 countries were party to the Rome Statute. Countries that have not acceded include the United States, China, Russia and India.
Dr Mahathir said the confusion over the ratification was created by a particular person "who wants to be free to beat up people and things like that", according to a full transcript of his news conference that was released by Malaysiakini news site yesterday.
Asked why he was upset about not ratifying the statute, he said there was a "particular attempt to get the rulers involved so that they can get leverage, and even trying to get the rulers to sign something... against me".
Dr Mahathir claimed there were people "trying to blacken the name of this government, including myself, and I know why: because I have been very strict about money laundering and things like that".
He added that "these cowards", whom he did not name, did not try to stop former premier Najib Razak when he was accused of being involved with the financial scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
A leader of the PH alliance Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that the claim of rulers set to be pitted against Dr Mahathir was in reference to a particular royal family and not political parties, Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.
Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar in a speech last month was quoted by the Malaysian media as saying: "Any party that touches the rights and powers of a ruler or state government, is breaking the law and can be considered as traitors."
Sultan Ibrahim added: "The action of the federal government to ratify Icerd (a United Nations rights pact) and sign the Rome Statute is an action that is contradictory to the Federal Constitution because it touches on the power of the rulers and the special status of the Malays as well as the sanctity of Islam in the country."