Thursday, 3 July 2014

NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully has apologised to the Prime Minister for this diplomatic immunity debacle. His apologies should not stop there. He owes another to the state of Malaysia for suggesting it was entirely to blame for the immunity granted to a junior military officer at its High Commission in Wellington who was facing charges of burglary and assault with intent to rape.

When Malaysia's Foreign Minister responded that New Zealand had been a party to the decision, Mr McCully released an exchange of letters that seemed to give the lie to that claim. A more cautious minister would have suspected there was more to it when his counterpart had such a different understanding of events. Mr McCully ought to have checked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade before New Zealand said anything more.

Too late, he discovered that the ministry had been saying one thing in a letter to the High Commission and another thing in discussions with the Malaysians.

Mr McCully then had to admit his ministry may have given them "mixed messages" about whether it wanted Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail to be prosecuted in New Zealand.

When the minister has made amends to Malaysia, he could offer apologies to those his ministry has wronged in this country.


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