- Date published:
9:28 am, February 7th, 2016 - 11 comments
Categories: International, john key, journalism, Media, Minister for International Embarrassment, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: murray mccully, tania billingsley
The Malaysian Diplomat with unusual behavioural mannerisms and odd ideas of the meaning of consent and invitation has now been sentenced to home detention on the charges that he faced. The young woman involved, Tania Billingsley has been completely exonerated. Attempts to discredit her have backfired spectacularly.
Following the sentencing the Whitehead Report has been released. The report canvasses the events surrounding New Zealand’s request for diplomatic immunity to be waived and the Malaysian Government’s declining of that request.
The incident happened on May 10, 2014. A waiver of diplomatic immunity was sought on May 12 and declined by the Malaysian authorities on May 21.
The matter then went quiet until June 25 when media enquiries kickstarted further activity. By July 1 the Malaysian authorities had claimed that New Zealand had offered an alternative result to the declining of the waiver in a nudge nudge wink wink sort of way.
The basis for this appears to be the email that accompanied the request for waiver. It said:
I am attaching a third person note seeking a waiver of Mr Ismail’s immunity from your government. Police tell me he is now on bail and is due to appear in court on 30 May as he did not state that he has full inviolability from detention and arrest and immunity from prosecution. Despite not mentioning his status to police, it is still necessary for us to seek a waiver which must be express. If he were to complete his posting prior to 30 May and return to Malaysia with his family, that would be the end of the matter.
The report has concluded that this email inadvertently led the Malaysian authorities to think that a waiver would be tolerated. The primary recommendation, that in future all emails accompanying formal requests should be functional only, is appropriate.
Various emails have also been released. They show that McCully was advised the day after the diplomat had been arrested of the incident and that there were concerns about the diplomat’s mental status. After initial activity the emails suggest that everything went quiet after the Diplomat returned home until media requests by the Sunday Star Times caused interest to increase.
No doubt the Government will try and blame the poor public servant who wrote the email and suggest that McCully has been exonerated but there are two aspects about this case that they need to wear.
Firstly it seems clear that the Government was concerned and became active only when they became aware of media interest in the case. Before then there is no sign of there being any interest in the case. The one thing that stirred McCully and the Government into action was the thought of adverse media. The “please explain” session between Murray McCully and the Malaysian on June 30 should have occurred immediately after the diplomat had left the country, not after the story had broken.
Secondly it seems clear that the officer wrote and sent the email without it being reviewed by anyone and no other party was copied into the email. It makes you wonder about the effects of McCully’s 2011 reorganisation of MFAT where 79 foreign policy and corporate services jobs were lost.
More investigation into McCully’s actions is warranted. It is hard to understand how the most serious incident involving diplomatic status in New Zealand in many years only received his full attention only after the media reported on it.