Govt welcomes public feedback on international treaties ratification

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THE government welcomes any feedback from the public on international treaties that Malaysia will sign, especially on matters that are deemed sensitive to the nation.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar told the Dewan Negara yesterday that the process involved in the signing of international treaties have phases where the government includes the public’s views on the proposed agreement.

“I would like to stress that the government is always concerned and respects the public’s view and will not turn its backs to the nation or other stakeholders in the ratification of international treaties,” he said in the Upper House yesterday.

Kamarudin was responding to senator Dr Wan Martina Wan Yusoff who asked if the government will get feedback from the public before ratifying any international treaty.

He explained that a treaty is defined as a formal written agreement which is guided by international regulations and is done between countries and international organisations.

It encompasses various scope including human rights, safety and defence, trade as well as disarmament. Treaties can be divided into two categories, namely those that are legally binding and non-legally binding.

Kamarudin cited the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as an example of a legally binding treaty, while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights treaty is non-legally binding.

He said the Malaysian government held a meeting among agencies involved to discuss proposals for the ratification of CEDAW in 1995. It also engaged stakeholders, academics and the public to get feedback and share inputs that were received from the interagencies meetings held.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acts as the ministry responsible for handling issues related to foreign relations and will serve as a mediator between the Malaysian government and the body that governs the treaties with regards to the decision on the ratification.

“Meanwhile, each treaty to be ratified is under the purview of the ministry responsible for the issues highlighted in the agreement,” he said.

The International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) is planning to seek a mandate from the Cabinet on the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by year-end.

Currently, as a signatory, Malaysia does not enjoy preferential tariff rates offered and is not allowed to block any consensus made by parties in all CPTPP meetings.

MITI Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali had previously stated that Malaysia is committed to ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by mid-December.