New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully (right) apologises to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key
PETALING JAYA: New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has apologised to Prime Minister John Key for not fully informing him about the case of a Malaysian diplomatic aide before he spoke publicly on the matter.
The New Zealand Herald reported that McCully revealed that Malaysia may have received mixed messages from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about New Zealand wanting to waive diplomatic immunity for Warrant Officer 2 Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, who is accused of sexual assault and burglary in New Zealand.
McCully admitted that the ministry had fallen short of expectations, adding that a “considered process” was in progress over the confusion and could not rule out job losses.
It was reported that in official correspondence on the matter between both countries, the ministry clearly stated that it wanted Malaysia to waive immunity for WO2 Rizalman so he could face charges in New Zealand.
McCully said the ministry had engaged in a series of unofficial discussions, which would have been “ambiguous” to the Malaysian officials.
It was further reported that Malaysian officials concluded from the informal talks that New Zealand allowed the diplomat to return home and be court martialed instead of facing charges in New Zealand.
McCully said: “I told the Prime Minister that he had not been given all of the information he should have been given. And I have taken responsibility for that and apologised to him.
“The third-person note was clear and unambiguous, but some of the discussions that occurred because of the complexity of the case would have given the Malaysian officials room to draw the conclusions they did.”
McCully had also asked the ministry’s chief executive, John Allen, to look at the ministry’s actions and whether they were appropriate.
Allen acknowledged his ministry bungled the case and had apologised to the Government for both the shortcomings in the advice given to the Government and its management of a serious incident.
Earlier yesterday, the New Zealand Parliament went into an urgent debate over the matter.
Labour Party Foreign Affairs spokesman David Shearer said the alleged victim, a 21-year old woman, had been denied justice, reported TVNZ.
Shearer also condemned McCully over the handling of the issue, alleging that officials had only gone public over the incident after it gained media publicity.
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