A medical lesson from Malaysia: depression can kick in when diplomatic immunity has worn off

Diplomatic immunity didn’t do the trick for Muhammad Rizalman, the Malaysian diplomat who took off in a hurry from this country to avoid facing a sex charge.

So now he is playing the medical card. He is too sick to be flown back here.

The Herald on Sunday reports on this latest turn in the story today.

The return of a Malaysian diplomat to New Zealand to face a sex charge seems far from certain, as his doctors last night warned he may not be well enough to travel.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail has been in a military hospital since Tuesday. Malaysian authorities had earlier said he could be sent back tomorrow after medical checks.

But last night a source at Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital near Kuala Lumpur told the Herald on Sunday that Rizalman was “not looking good” and might need further tests.

If news media pictures of this fellow are any guide, he is not looking good at the best of times.

So what’s actually wrong with him?

He seemed withdrawn and depressed, the hospital staffer said.

A senior doctor at the hospital confirmed the 38-year-old might need further psychiatric evaluation.

Alf can understand he might be a tad depressed that his diplomatic immunity quickly wore off and no longer will protect him from the New Zealand justice system.

Dunno about the need for psychiatric evaluation.

The Herald on Sunday has gone on to recall its story last week, when it revealed Rizalman had invoked diplomatic immunity after being charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape.

As we all now know:

The issue became an embarrassment for our Government, which allowed him to leave.

It was revealed Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Prime Minister John Key were briefed about the May 9 incident in Wellington, but did nothing until the Herald on Sunday made inquiries last week.

An MFAT inquiry is under way amid apologies from McCully and MFAT boss John Allen. McCully had said New Zealand wanted Malaysia to waive immunity, but it emerged MFAT had not made that clear.

In the upshot, a decision on whether Rizalman is fit to stand trial rests with the Malaysian Government.

McCully last night could give no assurances the diplomat would return.

Meanwhile the newspaper has published fresh details of the alleged offending.

It is alleged Rizalman followed a 21-year-old woman from a bus stop to her home in Brooklyn.

He allegedly broke into the house and undressed. The woman had fought her alleged attacker off and neighbours went to her aid.

The married father of three is alleged to have fled the house but waited outside for police to show up.

McCully refused to comment last night, saying the case was before the courts.

Alf confesses to hoping the fuss will result in McCully’s resignation or sacking (although he would never acknowledge this if asked for public comment).

He has no beef with Murray. But he does desperately want a cabinet job, and so is always hoping an incident like this might create the opening he craves.

Come to think of it, without leaving his favourite table in the Eketahuna Club, he could have made a better fist of this diplomatically delicate issue than the Machiavellian Murray seems to have done.

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