Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Press Release: Malaysian Bar commends Malaysian Government’s intention to ratify the Rome Statute

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bar Council <council@malaysianbar.org.my>
Date: 15 March 2011 13:30
Subject: [Malaysian Bar:3145] Press Release: Malaysian Bar commends Malaysian Government's intention to ratify the Rome Statute
To: malaysianbar@googlegroups.com


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Press Release
 
Malaysian Bar commends Malaysian Government's intention to ratify the Rome Statute
 
The Malaysian Bar welcomes the comments made last week by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, and the President of the Senate, all of whom have stated that Malaysia should not delay any further in ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ("ICC"). This is an independent and permanent court of last resort to try persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

In the light of the promise made by Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz at the Kampala meeting of the Parliamentarians for Global Action ("PGA") in May 2010, to submit the accession papers to the Rome Statute to the Malaysian Cabinet upon his return from that meeting, and also the unanimous resolution of the Malaysian Parliament on the issue of the Gaza flotilla, calling on Turkey to refer Israel to the ICC, this consensus by the Executive and Legislative branches of the Malaysian Government to ratify the Rome Statute could not have come any sooner.

The comments were delivered during the two-day Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on the Universality of the International Criminal Court, which was organised by the PGA and hosted by the Malaysian Parliament. The Consultation brought together Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Maldives, New Zealand, the Philippines, Vanuatu and Malaysia, the Speaker of the Parliament of Kiribati, the Attorney-General of the Maldives, and additional participants from Ireland, Italy, South Korea, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

The keynote address was given by the guest of honour, HE Judge Sang-Hyun Song, the President of the International Criminal Court, who hails from South Korea and who is the first Asian President of the ICC. He noted that only two countries in the South East Asian region are currently members of the ICC, namely Cambodia and Timor Leste. He was pleased to inform delegates that the President of the Philippines, HE Benigno Aquino III, had very recently forwarded the Rome Statute for ratification by the Senate of the Philippines. President Song also reported that the new interim government that had recently taken over in Tunisia had also announced its intention to join the ICC.

The Malaysian Bar was pleased to have participated in this Consultation. Since 2006, the Malaysian Bar has been involved in the campaign to persuade the Malaysian Government to ratify the Rome Statute. Joining the ICC would be consistent with Malaysia's membership in the UN Human Rights Council, which is responsible for upholding the highest possible standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Following on from these positive developments, the Malaysian Bar strongly urges the Malaysian Government to maintain its focus and resolute direction, and not delay any further its membership of the ICC. The Malaysian Bar wholeheartedly concurs with Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz that joining the ICC would not threaten or compromise Malaysia's sovereignty. The fact that the ICC operates on a principle of complementarity means that the international jurisdiction of the ICC is carefully balanced with the jurisdiction of the Malaysian courts. Malaysia has nothing to fear from membership of the ICC. Indeed, by becoming a party to the Rome Statute, Malaysia will enjoy the right to nominate candidates to all the organs of the ICC, including the offices of the Prosecutor and the Registrar, and judges.


Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

15 Mar 2011




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Press Release: Dr Mahathir is just plain and simply wrong

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From: Bar Council <council@malaysianbar.org.my>
Date: 15 March 2011 16:02
Subject: [Malaysian Bar:3146] Press Release: Dr Mahathir is just plain and simply wrong
To: malaysianbar@googlegroups.com


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Press Release
 
Dr Mahathir is just plain and simply wrong
 
The Malaysian Bar is disappointed with the statement, made by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his blog, disputing the status of the Orang Asli of peninsular Malaysia and their rights in ancestral land. Dr Mahathir's views are just plain and simply wrong.

There is ample historical evidence that the Orang Asli have continuously occupied lands and resided in various parts of peninsular Malaysia for thousands of years. They have lived as an organised society, with their own form of self-government, customs, traditions and practices. In this regard, the Court of Appeal in the Sagong Tasi case recognised the Orang Asli as the "First People" of the land. They had a common law right in their customary ancestral land. Their common law proprietary interest in their land was also recognised by the Federal Court in the Madelli Salleh case, and in two other Court of Appeal cases, namely Adong Bin Kuwau and Nyok Anak Nyawai.

Further, both the Federal Constitution and the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 have recognised the status of the Orang Asli and their customary rights in their ancestral land.

As a Member State of the United Nations that voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("UNDRIP") in 2007, Malaysia is both morally and legally committed to recognising and protecting the status and proprietary rights of aboriginal peoples. The Malaysian Bar therefore rejects any attempt by the likes of Dr Mahathir and his ilk to deny the status of the Orang Asli and their land rights.

What has in fact transpired has been a systematic denial of the rights of the Orang Asli, along with the implementation of Government-imposed integration policies that cause their coerced resettlement. Communities have been removed from their sources of livelihood, their physical and spiritual way of life and their economic, social and cultural heritage that have been practised, and have evolved, over centuries. Most Orang Asli are not able to fully enjoy their fundamental human rights because their traditions, customs and values are being eroded and their needs have long been neglected.

The Malaysian Bar urges the Government to be steadfast at all times in upholding and honouring the obligations it undertook when Malaysia voted in favour of adopting UNDRIP. In accordance with UNDRIP, the Government has a duty to halt any steps to amend or introduce any legislation affecting the Orang Asli's ancestral lands, until it "consults and cooperates in good faith" with the affected communities, and obtains their "free, prior and informed consent". We call on the Government not to act in any manner inconsistent with those rights.

The Malaysian Bar also calls upon the Federal and State Governments to immediately halt any steps to amend or introduce any legislation affecting the Orang Asli's ancestral lands, until a process of consultation is conducted with the affected communities, and their free, prior and informed consent and cooperation are obtained. Without this preliminary measure, the Government's vote in favour of adopting UNDRIP that, inter alia, reiterates the right of Orang Asli to self-determination, rings hollow.

Additionally, the gift of being Malaysian is to celebrate the diversity that all of us enjoy. Diversity is our strength, and not a hindrance. We should reject Dr Mahathir's idea that there should be a "one size fits all" Malaysian.


Lim Chee Wee
President
Malaysian Bar

15 Mar 2011


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