The latest incident involving a Warrant Officer of the Malaysian Armed Forces attached to the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand who was arrested on 9th May for attempted burglary and sexual assault is one that is both simple but complex in nature, but comes with a simple solution.
The crime may not be as bad as the crimes committed by Arjen Rudd, the South African diplomat in the blockbuster movie “Lethal Weapon 2” (played by Joss Ackland) nor is it as bad as an incident involving the Ambassador of Myanmar to Sri Lanka, but the crimes committed by this Warrant Officer warrants a serious action. In all the instances above, the clause “Diplomatic Immunity” was invoked.
Contrary to popular belief, Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says that as long as you are a member of the Embassy staff, you are entitled to the immunities prescribed in Articles 29 thru 36; and this includes spouse, children, maids, servants working there, plus minus one or two articles for non-staff. The Warrant Officer is a diplomatic agent, and under Article 29 he is inviolable: he cannot be prosecuted for any crime committed in the Receiving State which, in this case, is New Zealand.
As in the case of the Myanmar Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the Ambassador in 1979 suspected his wife of having an affair, shot her. Then, on the grounds of the Embassy, he built a funeral pyre and cremated his wife in full view of the police, media and the public AND STILL REMAINED AN AMBASSADOR! This is how strong Article 29 is.
The Warrant Officer was brought back to Malaysia on the 22nd of May after the Malaysian High Commission invoked the man’s diplomatic immunity. On the 29th May, the Malaysian Armed Forces convened a. Board of Inquiry into the incident, and none of us would have known of this until someone in New Zealand kicked up so much fuss to not notice!
Is it right, however, to not send him back to New Zealand to face charges?
The Government of Malaysia should use Article 32 para 1 of the Convention to waive his diplomat status and express this waiver as prescribed in Para 2 of the same Article. Then send this guy back to. New Zealand to dance to the tune he had asked for, while the Foreign Ministry work on repairing the damage done.
We cannot ignore nor condone blatant criminal acts by our civil servants or by any individual of the public, especially when in other countries. We should not jeopardise Malaysia’s reputation abroad just for the sake of one criminal.
Therefore, I call upon Anifah Aman to do the right thing: crucify the Warrant Officer and stop this diplomatic insanity!