Malaysians want diplomat returned to NZ

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 13:12 02/07/2014
Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail
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Malaysia's highly active social media is abuzz with outrage at their government's handling of the diplomat accused of attempted rape in New Zealand.

Plagued by accusations of cronyism and corruption, the Malaysian Government faces a public convinced the incident will be swept under the carpet, despite reassurances from foreign minister Anifah Aman it would not be taken lightly.

Yesterday, Anifah told a media conference that New Zealand offered to invoke Muhammad Rizalman's diplomatic immunity and send him back to Malaysia, rather than face charges here.

The message contradicted Prime Minister John Key's statement that the Government wanted Rizalman to be prosecuted in New Zealand.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said later that negotiations between New Zealand and Malaysian officials were likely to have been "misunderstood" by the Malaysian side, which had acted in good faith.

But in the wake of widespread criticism over their Government's handling of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Malaysians are embarrassed their country is becoming known on the international stage for ineptitude in the face of a crisis.

Facebook user Y L Chew commented Malaysia was getting famous for a "lawless elite syndrome" among some of its citizens.

"People so intoxicated with power that they do not need to respect any laws because in their own country, they command the laws."

Nantha Kumar said Rizalman would get immunity in Malaysia because "that's how the system here works".

New Zealand's legal system was fair and transparent, and only guilty people were afraid of it, Lee Yoke Meng said.

"So the suspect should be handed over to NZ for trial purposes," he posted.

Others agreed Rizalman should be sent to New Zealand to face the charges, as the Malaysian legal system could not be trusted.

Beng Sooi Tan said that if Rizalman was prosecuted in Malaysia, he would be acquitted "as he has 'bright future'."

Satish Chand Bhandari posted there should be no diplomatic immunity for such behaviour in a foreign country, and the incident brought "shame" on Malaysia.

On Twitter, Rina Omar called for the diplomat to be extradited to New Zealand to "face up" to the charges.

The sentiment was echoed by Malaysian politician Ramasamy Palanisamy.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Twitter that anyone in the wrong would not be above the law, and "stern action" would be taken without fear or favour.

He had "no problems" with extraditing Rizalman to New Zealand if required, but needed to discuss it with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.

Hishammuddin was responding to Shaik Azrin, an employment law specialist, who called for the diplomat to be sent back to New Zealand - "then we'll know you're serious".

Hishammuddin said Rizalman's fate would be known "in the next few days", after discussions with Anifah.

- Stuff

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