We all know that it's election year and politicians from all walks of life will be doing all they can to keep a lid on any scandals that might erupt during their campaigning. However once in a while a story that shouldn't have been buried in the first place breaks at the most inconvenient time for the government.
|Accused Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail|
I am of course talking about the mishandling of the Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail case by Murray McCully. As you may know, an overseas diplomat who is alleged to have committed a serious crime was allowed to leave New Zealand without prosecution. It's alleged that the Malaysian diplomat followed a 21-year-old female home, broke into her house and attempted to rape her. The accused attacker was then allowed to leave New Zealand.
If that wasn't bad enough, the traumatic experience is being made all the worse because of how badly the National led government is mishandled the situation. The victim wasn’t even properly consulted about what should or was happening concerning her attackers diplomatic immunity. In fact the failure's in this case by government officials are numerous.
Despite the seriousness charges, the accused man was allowed to return to Malaysia even though the Malaysian government offered to waive his diplomatic immunity so that he could face trial here in New Zealand. Despite that undeniable fact, the maladroit Murray McCully claimed that it was the Malaysian's who invoked diplomatic immunity. He later went back on this claim trying to say that it was all MFAT’s fault and that the government had no responsibility. In fact he laid blame on everyone but himself.
The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister even released documents that somewhat supported his initial assertion. However the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister, Anifah Aman, thoroughly contradicted McCully's account of the situation and it's now clear that further negotiations between MFAT and the Malaysian counterpart were conducted. That contact resulted in New Zealand not accepting the Malaysian's offer to waive diplomatic immunity. True to form, Murray McCully has failed to release information concerning these communications. However there's no doubt that those ‘informal talks’ resulted in the National government being complicit in an accused rapist leaving the country. They clearly did this to try and cover-up any controversy that might reflect badly on their campaigning and in particular their poster boy, John Key.
In an attempt to save his own arse, Murray McCully is also claiming that he wasn't kept informed of the situation and has placed the blame entirely on the police and his department. This has resulted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs head, John Allen, offering his resignation. However it's quite clear that he's just being used as another scapegoat to protect his superiors who would have known about every detail of this case.
When the story broke some six weeks after Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail returned to Malaysia, much to the governments feigned surprise, McCully should have owned up to being actively involved in the case. He should have resigned immediately! All relevant documents should have been released, not just those that tried to get the Minister in question off the hook and certainly not documents that tried to mislead the public about what had actually occurred.
That alone should ensure McCully’s resignation, not just as a Minister, but from parliament entirely. Not only did the Minister himself fail to ensure justice for the young woman was seen let alone actually done in a reasonable timeframe...a gross breach of conduct undertaken to try and protect his own political position, the Minister has also attempted to mislead the public over the serious issue of diplomatic immunity and who exactly invoked it.
In a so-called democracy like New Zealand this is an entirely unacceptable occurrence. The Prime Minister, a person who could also be involved in this scandal, should actively encourage McCully’s resignation. In any case an apology for such ineptitude and self-centred decision making should have been made to the victim before any grovelling by Murray McCully to John Key. I hate to think of the anguish their mishandling has caused the victim in all of this.
Considering the seriousness you would expect the mainstream media to be unanimously requesting the Minister’s resignation. After all, McCully is the person responsible for MFAT's incompetence and he should accept his shortcomings with some grace. Unfortunately the media seem more relaxed about the government facilitating the escape of an alleged rapist than they did over an eleven-year-old form letter. Even the out-dated polemic John Armstrong can't bring himself to lay blame where it truly belongs, with his insipid scribbling in today's Herald claiming that the government isn't responsibility at all. When the shoe's on the other foot eh John.
Whatever way the biased media want to spin this, such scandals will be doing some serious damage to New Zealand's international reputation. Therefore Murray McCully, the Minister responsible, must resign!