The case involving a diplomat with the Malaysian High Commission to New Zealand Muhammad Rizalman Ismail for burglary and assault with the intent to commit rape which caused a public outcry in Kiwiland, would be treated accordingly and the Malaysian Government has no intention ‘to sweep the matter under the carpet’.
The Star story:
Published: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 6:19:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 11:30:49 PM
Malaysia not sweeping NZ sexual assault case ‘under the carpet’
BY T. AVINESHWARAN
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Government has ensured a transparent investigation into the incident involving a defence staff assistant who was allegedly accused of sexual assault in New Zealand.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Tuesday, the Government said that it is “not sweeping the matter under the carpet”.
It said the Government acknowledged that the incident does not reflect the exemplary conduct and integrity of Malaysians serving abroad.
“The Malaysian Government is committed in ensuring the transparency of the investigation of the case. The Ministry of Defence will not hesitate to take stern action against the accused person under the Armed Forces Act 1972, if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is responsible for his alleged misconduct,” the statement said.
In earlier reports, New Zealand was asked to drop all charges against the alleged accused, according to correspondence released by the New Zealand Government on Tuesday.
This came after its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mofat) had requested that diplomatic immunity be waived for Muhammed Rizalman Ismail, 38, a defence staff assistant with the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand.
However, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, they were prepared to waive diplomatic immunity of the alleged accused to enable prosecution under New Zealand law.
It said that the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington had a meeting with Mofat’s Deputy Chief of Protocol and New Zealand police officers to discuss the matter.
“During the discussion on May 12, the New Zealand side offered an alternative for the accused to be brought back to Malaysia. It was never our intention to treat the matter lightly.
“With the agreement of the New Zealand side, the accused person and his family returned to Malaysia on May 22,” said the statement.
Muhammed Rizalman was allegedly accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman at her home in Wellington.
He reportedly followed the young woman back to her home in Brooklyn on the night of May 9 and is alleged to have assaulted her with the intent to rape.
He was brought to court on May 10 for the charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape but has since returned to Malaysia.
The incident has created a public outcry in New Zealand, with Prime Minister John Key saying his “preference” was for the alleged accused to be tried under NZ law.
Rizalman, who is a career soldier would be dealt under the provisions of the Armed Forces Act (1972). The ATM Inspector General is expected to conduct their own investigation and sort the matter, under laws governing members of His Majesty’s Armed Forces personnel.
In his media conference Malaysian Foreign Malaysia Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman stated that New Zealand offered the diplomat to be brought back to Malaysia, and be dealt with by Malaysian authorities.
This matter was brought into discussion between the Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully. The two members of the Commonwealth share common laws for criminal and conduct under military establishments.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s statement after consulting his Malaysian counterpart Dato’ Seri Anifah Aman:
Murray McCully1 JULY, 2014
McCully receives Malaysian assurances
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has tonight spoken to Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah to clarify any misunderstanding relating to the diplomat who was accused of an attack on a woman and the circumstance involving his return home.
“The Malaysian Foreign Minister is absolutely committed to the alleged offender facing a proper judicial process,” Mr McCully says.
“The individual concerned is a military person and the Malaysian Chief of Defence Force has established a Board of Inquiry process. Minister Anifah assured me that any material provided by New Zealand Police will be placed before the Board of Inquiry.
“The Minister made it clear that he would not allow the actions of one individual to tarnish the reputations of all Malaysian diplomats.
“It is clear to me from my conversation with Minister Anifah that his Government’s decision to decline New Zealand’s request for immunity to be lifted was driven by his Chief of Defence’s desire to put in place a robust judicial process to deal with this matter and his officials’ belief that this would be an outcome acceptable to New Zealand.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has this evening provided me with the correspondence between New Zealand and Malaysian officials on this matter. While the formal request is absolutely unambiguous in seeking the lifting of immunity, it is now clear to me that officials engaged in informal communications over what is a complex case, in a manner that would have been ambiguous to the Malaysian Government.
“Due to the nature of the proceedings that lie ahead, I am unable to be more forthcoming on the matter at this stage. However, I can say that the Malaysian side have acted entirely in good faith.
“I have emphasised to my Malaysian counterpart the New Zealand Government’s commitment to justice for the victim in this case, and my colleague assures me that the Malaysian Government shares this view,” Mr McCully says.
This is a demonstration of very good understanding, trust and diplomatic relationship between the two Commonwealth cousins.