Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Disoriented Romanian Diplomat

Diplomats are people with plenty of time on their hand and, if they do not have their families with them, are likely to explore the exotic sphere of amorous liaison. Our fun-loving Romanian diplomat Dr. Silviu Ionescu could not have been above this mould.

There is a Chinese saying: When one's stomach is full and warm one's thought is on sexual desire (bao nuan si yin yu). Dr. Ionescu is no angel and that he was with an Asian female companion in the early hours of December 15 could not have raised any eyebrow. He had earlier been to a karaoke lounge in Peace Centre and could have tippled whether to what extent is now difficult to ascertain. So willy-nilly he has to be given the benefit of the doubt that he was not inebriated.

After dropping his female companion off he apparently was heading home when he ploughed into first two pedestrians and later another one. He was driving a black Audi A6 with a diplomatic licence plate. That he claimed that he was not the driver at the time is a moot point and taxes the imagination when there is overwhelming evidence of public-spirited witnesses. There is the evidence of the taxi-driver whose cab he hailed at Sungei Kadut to take him back to River Valley Road. The fact that he disappeared suddenly three days after the hit-and-run accident and returned to Romania ostensibly for medical treatment does not add to his credibility. He promised that he would return to Singapore later this month to assist in the police investigation but it is prudent to wait and see.

Of the three victims of the hit-and-run accident, one had since succumbed to his injuries on Christmas day. The other two are luckier but are still under medical care. Whether the victims, especially the deceased's family, will get any compensation is a big question mark. The Romanian government cannot escape its moral responsibility here.

As long as Dr. Ionescu is outside the jurisdiction of Singapore, police investigations of the hit-and-run accident are likely to be handicapped. The facts are glaring and it is incumbent upon the Romanian government to direct Dr. Ionescu to return to Singapore to assist in the police investigations in the interest of justice and fair-play. The Romanian government will endear itself to Singaporeans, if not to the world, if it lifts the immunity of Dr. Ionescu to allow him to be prosecuted and face the penalty if there is concrete evidence to implicate him in the hit-and-run accident, in which a life has been lost.

Immunity is meant to protect diplomats from malicious persecutions by foreign governments and should not be abused. Where there is a clear case of fundamental injustice committed by a diplomat, the government of the diplomat concerned is judged whether its leaders show distinctive statemanship in their diplomacy of seeing to it that justice is done. So far, Romania is of high repute in the eyes of the world and it would not be worth its while to allow this little unfortunate incident to mar its reputation.

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