Murray McCully’s MFAT bungle slowly being diffused

Alleged attempted rapist Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail and his alleged victim Tania Billingsley will be thrilled to know that by the time it comes to taking responsibility for the diplomatic stuff up that allowed  Rizalman to return to Malaysia, all those that are capable of being held responsible have already fled, been moved on or “promoted” out of harm’s way.

A damning report into the bungling of a diplomatic incident involving a Malaysian accused of attempted rape is set to be withheld until at least early next year.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade came under heavy fire earlier this year when they apparently left Malaysian counterparts with the impression that New Zealand was comfortable with a defence attache facing an attempted rape charge refusing to waive diplomatic immunity and facing justice at home.

In July, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced former Treasury secretary John Whitehead would head an inquiry into events which “undermined public confidence” in Mfat.

In May, Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, who worked at the Malaysian High Commission in Brooklyn in Wellington, was allowed to leave New Zealand despite being arrested and charged with the attempted rape of a Wellington woman in her home.

New Zealand requested the Malaysians waive diplomatic immunity, but this was rejected after a series of meetings between Malaysian diplomats and Mfat’s protocol division.

A complete “draft” report is being held up until next year as it is feared it may affect the active legal action against Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail.  The extra time this allows is being used constructively by those in the line of fire by getting well out of the way.  

A spokesman for McCully said the Foreign Minister expected to receive Whitehead’s report early this week and he would then make a decision on the public release of the report.

It is understood that lawyers have warned that the report could compromise Rizalman’s trial and so the report will not be released before the end of this year.

The report is said to discuss the decision-making of officials leading up to Rizalman’s departure from New Zealand.

Already, it appears figures close to the report are now moving on in their careers after a period of uncertainty, having seen sections of the report which related to them.

Sources say Caroline Bilkey has been replaced as Mfat’s director of protocol, and is now preparing to take up the role of New Zealand’s ambassador to Brazil.

Her appointment was announced after Rizalman had left New Zealand but before the events became public.

Mary Oliver, the deputy director of protocol, who was in meetings with Malaysian counterparts, retired earlier this year.

Earlier this month it emerged Allen had resigned to take up a new job heading the New Zealand Racing Board.

Which kind of leaves Murray “bungles” McCully as the sole representative to take whatever is going to need a sacrifice to the Left and the baying Media Gods.


– Hamish Rutherford, The Dominion Post


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  • BeaB

    “The extra time this allows is being used constructively by those in the firing line by getting well out of the way.”

    As a gun owner you should know they are actually in the line of fire.

  • LabTested

    ‘attempted rape’ repeated throughout the article. I thought he was charged with – Intent to Rape

    • burns_well_eh

      Correct – he was charged with “burglary and assault with intent to rape Tania Billingsley” when he appeared in court. But why would you bother with accuracy when you’re a decent journalist, trained and skilled?

    • phronesis

      Now THAT’s a damning retort.

  • unitedtribes

    Wonder how long it takes for this one to be leaked

    • Goldfish

      Give it to Goff, it’ll be out by lunch time.

  • john Doe

    McCully should take it on the chin and resign. Crusher Collins, Foreign Affairs Minister, has a bit of a ring to it…..

    • yossarian

      I don’t agree McCully should resign for a stuff up by officials. The concept of Ministerial accountability for bureaucratic bungling is almost dead, if not already so.

  • Des Marshall

    How does the writer know it’s a “damning report” if it hasn’t been released?

    • burns_well_eh

      Goff told him at lunchtime

      • Tweeted more the like!

  • dgrogan

    The bureaucratic ‘bungle’ is a political smoke screen. It’s the court case outcome which will be the interesting aspect here.