Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 10, 2014

Newsline: Malaysian diplomat’s alleged victim wants New Zealand FM to quit

The woman at the centre of a diplomatic incident and the victim of an alleged sex attack says Foreign Minister Murray McCully should resign. Tania Billingsley, 22, said she was deeply unhappy her alleged attacker, Malaysian warrant officer Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, had been allowed to go back to Malaysia, after mixed messages from an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mfat). In an interview with TV3’s Third Degree, the Wellington resident said she had yet to receive a direct apology from Mr McCully about errors made in her case. By having name suppression — automatically granted to alleged sexual attack victims — lifted and speaking out, she was putting a “face” to the alleged victim. Rizalman, a former staff member at the Malaysian High Commission, is accused of following Ms Billingsley home and assaulting her with intent to rape. He was arrested on May 9 and appeared the next day in Wellington District Court, but invoked diplomatic immunity and returned to Malaysia on May 22. The New Zealand Government has maintained it always wanted Rizalman to stay in the country and face the charges. But an informal, ambiguous communication from the Mfat official led to a belief that Rizalman’s return to Malaysia was acceptable to New Zealand.


Newsline: Obama taps another bundler to be ambassador to Costa Rica

President Obama nominated yet another bundler for an excellent ambassadorship, one in beautiful Costa Rica, land of wonderful beaches, volcanoes, tropical forests, zip-lining, exotic fauna and flora, lovely people and no army. The pick? Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, who’s head of business development and client service at Pzena Investment Management. Haney could be described — according to a New York Times tally — not as a mega-bundler but more a mini-bundler, raising only $35,800 in the last campaign (through September 2012) and just under a piddling $200,000 since 2007. It’s pretty safe to assume, from his résumé, that Haney speaks some Spanish, since he worked for much of the ’90s for U.S. companies in Puerto Rico and as a company marketing manager for Mexico and Central America — which may have even taken him to Costa Rica. He also got undergrad and masters degrees from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.


Newsline: Germany’s ambassador lashes out at Malaysia lawmaker’s World Cup Hitler tweet

Germany’s ambassador to Malaysia said on that the embassy “strongly” rejected “the unacceptable allusion to the fascist regime of Adolf Hitler” who led Germany into the Second World War. A Malaysian lawmaker apologised for a tweet praising Adolf Hitler following Germany’s World Cup win over Brazil, after Prime Minister Najib Razak rebuked him for his “unacceptable” statement. Bung Mokhtar Radin, a politician with Najib’s ruling United Malays National Organisation, congratulated Germany on Wednesday by posting on Twitter, “Well done… Bravo… Long Live Hitler”. Najib condemned Bung Mokhtar’s comments as “unacceptable and wrong” in a statement issued by his office Thursday and ordered him to withdraw them. Bung Mokhtar himself also tweeted an apology on Thursday. Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1, dealing the host nation the worst semi-final defeat in World Cup history.