Open letter from a Malaysian living in New Zealand

— John Ling
The Malay Mail Online
July 2, 2014

JULY 2 — When the news first broke that a Malaysian diplomat had been accused of sexual assault in New Zealand, I was struck by that sharpest of emotions — shame. And soon enough, that shame deepened into disgust when official government correspondence was released. They appeared to show that diplomatic immunity had been used to sidestep a criminal conviction, and this was done at the expense of a young female victim.

This international incident has sent shockwaves through New Zealand society. Kiwis are famously known for their cheerful and unassuming nature. But, in this instance, they have grown increasingly vocal at what they perceive to be a miscarriage of justice. Anger has been directed primarily at the present National government for not pushing hard enough to prosecute the offender within New Zealand’s jurisdiction. Anger has also been directed at the Malaysian government for exploiting a loophole in the Vienna Convention that allowed them to fly the offender back to Malaysia.

To understand why this alleged crime has struck such a raw nerve with New Zealanders, you first have to understand this country’s history.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first country in the world to offer women the right to vote. Then, in 2001, it became the only country in the world where the top positions of power were all held by women — Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Attorney General and Chief Justice.

The struggle for an egalitarian society occupies an almost mythic status in the New Zealand consciousness. People here are largely non-religious. Instead they follow common secular philosophy. They call it giving someone a “fair go”. It’s what every Kiwi child is expected to learn from a young age — no gender, no ethnicity, no dogma is allowed to supercede another. And the fight to advance women’s rights is placed on the same sacred pedestal as racial and marriage equality.

Little wonder, then, that New Zealanders should take this diplomatic incident as an affront to their values. It mocks over 120 years of liberal tradition. And this hurts all the more because Kiwis have traditionally held Malaysia in high regard. Malaysian restaurants are hugely popular here, and Malaysia Airlines has been a favoured carrier for Kiwis looking to travel to Asia.

Sadly, with the recent uptick in religious extremism, the catastrophic loss of MH370, and now this diplomatic faux pas, Malaysia’s reputation has now been called into question. There are now those whispering that this country is little more than a gangster state. A place where there’s no honesty; no integrity; no respect for women’s rights.

For the Malaysian community in New Zealand, this has placed us in the difficult position of having to act as apologists for the misdeeds of our bureaucrats. Rightly or wrongly, it now feels as if whatever age of innocence we once enjoyed is now long gone. “Malaysia Truly Asia” has become an ironic slogan for everything that’s wrong with our country of our birth.

For decades now, through times of war and peace, the New Zealand government has extended its hand of bilateral friendship. It has proven itself willing to give Malaysian citizens a fair go. We have come here as visitors, students and migrants, and throughout, Kiwis have been shown us nothing but warmth and generosity.

The onus now is on the Malaysian regime to prove that it is capable of reciprocating such friendship and goodwill. Only time will tell whether justice will be served fairly and impartially. The Malaysian community in New Zealand are hoping against hope that this will be the case.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 2 July 2014 - 9:35 pm

    Anyhow, Putrajaya has done the right thing by sending the accused back to New Zealand though there was some misunderstanding in communication between the two governments in the beginning.

  2. #2 by Noble House on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 3:48 am

    /// There are now those whispering that this country is little more than a gangster state. A place where there’s no honesty; no integrity; no respect for women’s rights. ///

    Indeed, Malaysia is closed to being if not already one. You need not have to look beyond that of the Home Minister and the IGP to be convinced of that.

    For once, Hishammuddin did the right and most honorable thing to save the country from further embarrassment. He seemed to have found the positive correlations between what is known as the “grey matter” in him. Perhaps, his handlings of the MH370 episode have benefited him in a way.

    This article from The Malay Mail Online or is it The Malaysia Insider?

  3. #3 by winstony on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 9:04 am

    This author has been in dreamland and has lost touch with what is Truly Malaysia.
    The rot has set in for decades but it will not be evident from the mainstream media.
    What the author needs to do urgently is to update himself with blogs like LKS’s blog and the alternative media.
    I think it’s long past time that blogs like that of LKS should be promoted worldwide to make foreigners know the reality of what’s going here in this country.

  4. #4 by Justice Ipsofacto on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 9:54 am

    Hey dont talk to the supreme grand master of the universe and the GOD of all gods like dat ok.

    Show respect ok. Like me.

    All hail umno.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 10:30 am

    What more proof that UMNO people believes that its their entitlement to abuse of power. They go to a liberal foreign land and believe they can get away it it? They don’t feel any responsibility of conduct in a foreign land because their inculcated minds at home simply don’t tell them that in the rest of the world, they are wrong..

  6. #6 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 3 July 2014 - 6:56 pm

    Mat rempit attitude all over the place including foreign land. Where is perkasa? Bring your submarine to New Zealand. Double quick.

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