Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Dunne Speaks on the Malaysian Diplomat saga

Dunne Speaks on the Malaysian Diplomat saga


3 July 2014

Charles de Gaulle once commented that politics were far too important to be left to the politicians. It appears our diplomats have adopted the same view about diplomacy, if the case of the disgraced Malaysian diplomat is any guideline.

By and large, we are well served by our public servants, and Ministers are usually extremely loyally supported, whatever their foibles. But when things go wrong, they often do so in a mighty way. I well recall seeing a former Prime Minister incandescent with rage after a comparatively junior official told him of plans to release adverse economic figures just a few days before an election. When the Prime Minister reminded him of this, this official arrogantly and utterly naively replied, “That is not my problem, Prime Minister.”

The same breathtaking dose of unreality seems to be behind MFAT’s Malaysian diplomat SNAFU. Whoever thought the “our chaps will talk quietly to your chaps” approach that appears to have been adopted was smart and sustainable, let along morally defensible, deserves their head read. Yet these are the same people who shudder visibly at the idea of politicians taking too hands-on a role in foreign policy formation because of its apparent subtlety and sensitivity, which leaves it far too important to be left to people who in Sir Robin Day’s infamous words are “mere here today, gone tomorrow politicians.”

Well, the case of the Malaysian diplomat has knocked any pretence of credibility that argument may have had, not just for six, but right out of the park and down the street. Diplomats of all people should not be letting down their political masters this way, let alone being so amoral when it comes to the instance of prosecuting a serious case like attempted rape.

Should we be altogether surprised? I venture to suggest not, sadly. The culture of many of our diplomats stems from the British Foreign Office. And it is not that many years ago that Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and possibly even Hollis were protected by the “club” because ‘decent chaps” could not be Soviet spies. Or that our own Paddy Costello was similarly protected.

It has been a week of bizarre events. First up, Labour said it would ensure new migrants did not live in Auckland. Short of ankle bracelets and leg irons, how on earth was it ever going to enforce such a crazy policy? Then came the Moa reincarnation scheme – prize winner for the most crackpot political idea of the year.

But while these two ideas smack of political lunacy and can be quickly dismissed as such, the Malaysian diplomat saga is more sinister: officials deliberately withholding information from Ministers and advising another country how to get around the law by claiming immunity to prevent a trial on one of the most serious criminal charges. Such behaviour, with so little regard for the victim, is simply unconscionable. Just as the diplomat is being extradited to face trial, so too should those responsible for this appalling state of affairs be held to full and proper account.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On Anne Tolley’s
Callous Folly

Years ago, I remember someone in the Heath Ministry telling me off the record that regulatory oversight in this country largely consisted in ‘waiting for something to turn green or fall off somebody’ before the authorities would swing into action...

Last week’s conflict between Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and District Court judge Carolyn Henwood illustrated quite a few of the flaws in the system. More>>

 

Members’ Bills: Greens' Domestic Violence And Loans Bills Pulled From Ballot

Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence-Victims' Protection Bill introduces workplace protections for victims of domestic violence, including allowing victims to request paid domestic violence leave for up to 10 days... Gareth Hughes’ Bill allows Kiwis with student loans to defer their student loan repayments into a first home savings scheme. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA: Police Did Not 'Deliberately' Use Pepper Spray On 10-Year-Old

"When spraying the man, the officer did not properly consider the necessity of using pepper spray in a confined space, the likelihood that it would affect the other innocent passengers or the fact that he was using a more powerful spray." More>>

ALSO:

Donor Bill Passes: Full Income Compensation For Live Organ Donors

Unanimous cross-party support for the Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill represents a critical step in reducing the burgeoning waiting list for kidney donations, according to Kidney Health New Zealand chief executive Max Reid. More>>

ALSO:

Earthquake Response: Emergency Legislation Prepared

Three new Bills have been drafted in the wake of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on November 14 to ensure the government can enable affected communities to respond quickly and efficiently. More>>

ALSO:

Housing MPs: New Building(s) For Parliament

A new building will be erected on Parliament grounds to house Members of Parliament and their staff who currently work in leased accommodation in Bowen House. The plan has cross-Party support, apart from NZ First, said Parliament’s Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news