MFAT information release relating to the Administrative Assistant to the Malaysian Defence Attache


Muhammad Rizalman Bin Ismail: Correction of title

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, the official referred to in the Whitehead Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into “Events surrounding the request for waiver of the diplomatic immunity of a Malaysian Defence Attaché” was incorrectly described as the Defence Attaché. Mr Rizalman’s correct title, at the time of the incident, was the Administrative Assistant to the Defence Attaché.

Relevant email communications over the period 10 May 2014– 3 July 2014, relating to request for waiver of the diplomatic immunity of Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, Administrative Assistant to the Malaysian Defence Attaché, are being proactively released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is these communications which form the key factual narrative relied on by John Whitehead in his Report, which is being released simultaneously under the Official Information Act 1982 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Understanding the sequence of emails

Many of these emails were sent as part of electronic ‘conversations’. Where there is an email conversation, each email is presented in context. This means that as you read through the documents on occasion there are discontinuities in the time sequence, however overall the documents have been compiled in chronological order.

Principles adopted for release of information

In considering the material to be released, we have taken into account the Principle of Availability set out in section 5 of the Official Information Act 1982 (‘the Act’). We have also considered the reasons for withholding set out in the Act.

As a result of those considerations, some information has been withheld in line with the provisions of the Act. Where material has been withheld it has been annotated in accordance with this table:

Annotation  Section of the OIA  Reason for witholding
1 Section 9(2)(a) to protect individuals’ privacy
2 Section 6(a) to avoid prejudicing the international relations of the New Zealand Government
3 Section 6(b) to protect the passing of information from another government on a confidential basis
4 Section 9(2)(ba) to protect the supply of confidential information by a third party
5 Section 9(2)(g)(i) to protect the free and frank expression of opinions by departments
6 Section 9(2)(h) to maintain legal professional privilege

In addition, some information has been withheld as being out of scope of the release (7)

The following acronyms and abbreviations appear in the email bundles, and are expanded in full for your information:

ESD – Executive Services Division
PRD – Protocol Division
SEA – South East Asia Division
KLU – New Zealand High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
OFS – Office Solicitors GM
SGG – Group Manager, Strategy and Governance Group
DS AAG – Deputy Secretary, Americas and Asia Group
MFA – Minister of Foreign Affairs
P/SEC MFA – Private Secretary, Minister of Foreign Affairs
SPS MFA – Senior Private Secretary, Minister of Foreign Affairs
PMO – Prime Minister’s Office
PRESS SEC MFA – Press Secretary, Minister of Foreign Affairs
DPMC – Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Some of the following has also been removed from the documents:

  • duplicated material
  • publically available material, for example, media releases and legislation

The emails can be found at the following links:


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