Sometimes the politically smart thing to do is also the morally right thing to do. When the government directly wrongs one of its own citizens a politician will almost always meet with that person. Partly out of decency but mostly to get that person ‘on side’ and deter them from, say, going on national television, declaring that you’re incompetent and demanding that you resign:
The woman at the centre of a case involving an alleged sex attack by a Malaysian diplomat say Prime Minister John Key looked “bored” and insincere when he publicly discussed her case.
Tania Rose Billingsley, 21, spoke on TV3’s 3rd Degree last night, after she waived her automatic right to name suppression.
She was allegedly assaulted by Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail in her home in Brooklyn, Wellington.
Rizalman was arrested on May 10 on charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.
The same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a formal request that Rizalman, an assistant to the defence attache for the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, waive diplomatic immunity to face charges.
Malaysia has said that at a meeting with Mfat representatives an alternative was offered for the accused to return to Malaysia.
Rizalman left on May 22, a day after Malaysia declined the request to waive immunity — asking for the police case to be sealed.
In the 3rd Degree interview, she said she was angry her alleged attacker was allowed to leave, and called for Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to resign.
Why didn’t McCully do the politically obvious thing and meet with Billingsley to apologise in person? Presumably because he didn’t give a shit, but also didn’t think that anyone else would either. This might not be the best guy to be handling our most sensitive diplomatic negotiations.
It’ll be interesting to see how our media culture deals with Tania Billingsley. As a young woman who talked about ‘rape culture’ and critiqued John Key and one of his senior Ministers you’d expect her to come under vicious and sustained attack, with the Sensible Blokes of Talk-radio leading the charge. But in the post-Roastbusters environment things might be different.