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.