Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail at Centre of NZ v. Malaysia PR War. NZ Apologises For a “performance that was below the standard that should be expected of the New Zealand Foreign Ministry”

Mohammed Rizalman Bin Ismail

Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail embraced the New Zealand lifestyle (Facebook)

The allegations of rape and burglary made against Malaysian diplomat Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail have paled into insignificance compared to the PR war that has broken out between the two countries.

Yesterday, Fairfax media got the suppression order lifted. Their case was probably helped by the many Malaysians who were already openly talking about the incident almost 2 months after it happened.

According to news reports Malaysia was willing to waive diplomatic immunity so he could be tried in New Zealand, but New Zealand told them it would be ok for him to be tried in his home country.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters that a defense ministry panel will investigate Second Warrant Office Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, 38, who was charged in New Zealand’s capital Wellington last month but evaded trial by using diplomatic immunity. He returned home on May 22…

Both Malaysia and New Zealand claim the other country was primarily responsible for initiating the man’s return.Anifah said that, at first, Malaysia was willing to waive diplomatic immunity so that he could be tried in New Zealand. “But during discussions on May 12, the New Zealand side offered an alternative for the accused to be brought back to Malaysia,” he said. “It was never our intention to treat the matter lightly.

Anifah Aman went on to say Malaysia would be willing to send the accused back to New Zealand for trial if necessary.

However, he is unlikely the receive a fair trial in New Zealand after details of the case were given to the NZ press, culminating in name suppression being lifted yesterday. Strangely convenient.

Backroom dealings

The report gave details of “informal discussions” that went on with New Zealand after it turned down a formal request to lift diplomatic immunity

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully acknowledged Tuesday, however, there were “informal communications over what is a complex case” which he said “would have been ambiguous to the Malaysian government.” source

Whatever the truth of the matter and leaving petty bickering aside,  the most important thing is that the young woman who was assaulted is supported and listened to, ultimately justice must be served. How will that happen in a Malaysian court room when the evidence is in New Zealand,  and why did New Zealand agree to it? To protect the lucrative free trade agreement between the two countries perhaps? Malaysia is New Zealand’s 8th largest export market.

Later in the day McCully made a public apology to the alleged victim, and also to his Prime Minister

Mr McCully said it became clear that New Zealand’s messages to Malaysia had been ambiguous.

And officials advising Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Anifah Mana, were entitled to believe from informal communications from MFAT that the course of action Malaysia took would be acceptable to New Zealand.

Mr McCully made his apology in front of the media today.

I have made it clear that we apologise for a performance that was below the standard that should be expected of the New Zealand Foreign Ministry.” source

Good job Mr McCully isn’t MD of a brewery.

Also read Alleged diplomat victim criticises John Key : Sexual assault survivor Tania Billingsley  waived her right to anonymity

In the 3rd Degree interview, she said she was angry her alleged attacker was allowed to leave, and called for Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to resign.

She also criticised Prime Minister John Key.

Billingsley said on 3rd Degree: “I just remember the first, the very first thing I watched on it, and just seeing him looking bored and annoyed at having to be talking about it and just saying there’s nothing that we can do pretty much. ‘Oh it sucks but it is what it is.’

“And that’s what I was getting. I don’t feel from him any sincerity in his concern for me…


Billingsley believed the trauma she experienced had become a ”backdrop” to political drama ”instead of a really real and traumatic experience”.

In an essay released on the 3rd Degree website, Billingsley spoke at length about her opinion of New Zealand society’s reaction to sexual assaults as seen through the reaction of politicians to her case.

She believes New Zealand’s attitudes towards sexual violence needed to change.

“I would like to put a personal challenge to the Government,” she said. “The fact that sexual violence is still so rampant in our society is proof in itself that you are not doing  enough.”

She said it was easy “to do a McCully” and avoid responsibility for the problem but “sexual violence is present in all parts of our society and therefore needs to be addressed by all parts of the Government. There have been recent actions towards addressing this but it is not  enough.”

Police said they did not oppose Billingsley’s application for her name to be made public, ”as we wanted to support [her] wishes”.


One thought on “Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail at Centre of NZ v. Malaysia PR War. NZ Apologises For a “performance that was below the standard that should be expected of the New Zealand Foreign Ministry”

  1. Yes, agreed, I wonder if the real agenda is trade, not justice.

    Perhaps the Malaysian offer to waive the accused’s diplomatic immunity came with too many strings attached for NZ.

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