Johor Sultan warns against ratifying UN conventions, accuses Putrajaya of violating Constitution

Zurairi Ar
Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has accused Putrajaya today of going against the Federal Constitution in its move to ratify several core human rights conventions. — Picture via Facebook/HRH Crown Prince of Johor

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 —  Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has accused Putrajaya today of going against the Federal Constitution in its move to ratify several core human rights conventions, including the recent Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In an address at his birthday celebration in Johor Baru, he also harshly labelled those who are allegedly disputing the authorities of state rulers and governments when it comes to Islam, water, forestry, and land as “traitors”.

“Any party that touches the rights and powers of a ruler or state government, is breaking the law and can be considered as traitors,” he said.

“The action of the federal government to ratify ICERD and signed 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.”

The text of his speech was published by his crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim on his Facebook page.

ICERD refers to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination — which Putrajaya has backed off from ratifying following pressure from Malay-Muslim lobby groups.

The ICERD seeks to oblige countries to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, is able to enjoy a long list of rights some may take for granted, including the right to freedom of expression, the right of peaceful assembly, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to medical care, social security, education and even the right to access places for the public’s use such as restaurants, theatres and parks.

“The government should remember on the social contract in the history of the formulation of the Federation of Malaya, where the special status of the Malays and the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong along with the Malay rulers are not to be touched or infringed,” the sultan added.

The sultan’s remark came even after Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has decreed earlier this month to dispel any misinformation regarding the International Criminal Court Statute, including the claim that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be exposed to the prosecution.

Wisma Putra has also repeatedly explained that the Agong cannot be held responsible towards the four core international crimes covered by the statute: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Putrajaya also explained that ratifying the statute does not require the agreement of the Conference of Rulers, since it does not fall under the nine issues stipulated under Articles 159(5) and 38(4) of the Constitution.

Despite that, it said the Cabinet will still inform the Agong of the decision in respect of the principles of Constitutional Monarchy.

Sultan Ibrahim today warned the federal government against ratifying any international conventions just for the sake of foreign recognition, claiming it would jeopardise the rights and sovereignty of the country and its citizens.

Pakatan Harapan had in its manifesto pledged to ratify core United Nations conventions to in order to protect the human rights of Malaysians.

Sultan Iskandar then reminded members of the public that Johor is an independent sovereign state that has existed prior to the Federation of Malaya and Malaysia.

“This sovereignty means Johor has powers and rights in executing matters as enshrined in the state and Federal Constitution,” he said.

Despite the sultan’s claim, as one of the states in the federation of Malaysia, Johor’s jurisdiction is spelled out in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Foreign policy is under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

The remark today came following a protest by Malay-Muslim groups yesterday in Johor, who submitted a memorandum to the sultan protesting against acceding the Rome Statute.

Recently, Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has questioned Putrajaya’s ratification of the Rome Statute, causing Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to dismiss the statement made by Tunku Ismail as being his personal opinion, saying the prince is not an elected representative. 

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