Malaysia will not join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad has announced, raising further concerns that his 10-month administration is holding back on promised reforms after coming under pressure from the opposition.
Malaysia signed the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty, in March but still had to ratify it to formally become a member of the The Hague-based tribunal.
Opposition parties objected to it on racial grounds that it could undermine privileges for Malays, as well as the immunity of nine Malay state rulers. The wealthy ruler of southern Johor state also recently accused the government of breaching the constitution by signing the treaty.
On Friday, Mahathir said the cabinet had decided not to ratify the Rome Statute as it has been manipulated by his opponents. He rejected allegations that the treaty will undermine Malaysia's sovereignty and its royal families.
Dissenting opinions between two camps dominated Malaysia's Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Centre’s recent general assembly. The verbal conflict finds its roots in the matter of the country’s laws on public procurement. On one hand, one party believes that the Malaysian government should continue to support division leaders in granting contracts as they are vital to sustain grassroots support (for the current ruling party). On the other hand, the other camp heavily disagrees – labeling this practice as “politics of patronage”. The latter argues that government contracts should always go through open tenders.
A peaceful revolution in Malaysia
On May 9, Malaysia shocked the world via a stunning electoral outcome that saw a nonagenarian return to power. Similar to the Brexit vote and the 2016 US presidential elections, most observers falsely predicted a narrow victory for the losing side.
Yet, only hours after election booths closed down, it became clear to everyone that the impossible had happened. At the age of 92, a remarkably robust and fiery Mahathir Mohamad, the former strongman of Malaysia, led an energized opposition against the formidable machinery of outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak.
With legendary conviction and swagger, Mahathir braved the sweltering summer heat, a battering campaign schedule, and endless mudslinging by his critics, who mockingly claimed he was just "too old" to run for office.
Terrorism continues to be a key area of cooperation between the two countries, despite lingering complications.
The visit of Saudi Arabia’s monarch King Salman to Malaysia this week was notable for many reasons. But it was clear from the discussions that took place between the two sides that terrorism was at the forefront. Indeed, the joint statement itself quite bluntly stated that terrorism “was the most important issue that was discussed.”