Politics

Malaysia Chronicle

Ex-diplomats plan protest letter over PM’s UAE debacle

PETALING JAYA: A group of former ambassadors is planning to write a letter of protest to Wisma Putra following a fiasco involving the prime minister’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) late last month.

Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, who once served as an ambassador to the Netherlands, told FMT that many of her former colleagues were “outraged” at the manner in which the matter was handled.

They were particularly dismayed with the recall of the ambassador, Tarid Sufian, and consul-general Hasril Abdul Hamid from their posts.

Noor Farida, who is part of the G25 group of former civil servants, claims the current batch of officers, with whom she is in contact, is disappointed and disheartened by this turn of events.

“We are all outraged that the foreign minister is not defending his own turf,” she said, referring to Saifuddin Abdullah.

She said that based on text messages she exchanged with her former colleagues in Wisma Putra, the anger was mostly aimed at the minister and “non-performing officers” at the Prime Minister’s Office.

She also said that many of her former colleagues know Tarid personally.

“They all say that he is a competent diplomatic officer who should not have been treated in such a shabby manner, especially when the debacle was not his fault.”

On Sunday, FMT reported that foreign ministry officials were believed to be fuming after the duo were ordered home and put in cold storage for the lack of official “guest status” for Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s visit to the UAE last month.

Sources told FMT that Tarid and Hasril were the only senior officers present at the airport to receive Ismail when he landed in Dubai.

There were no top UAE officials present, unlike the usual protocol which will see a senior minister of the host country being officially assigned to receive foreign dignitaries.

One source said the ambassador had told Wisma Putra about the UAE government’s reservations on the timing of Ismail’s visit in view of the hundreds of VIPs coming from all over the world daily for the Dubai World Expo 2021. Apparently, this fell on deaf ears.

Wisma Putra, in confirming that the duo had been recalled from the post, blamed them for failing to make proper arrangements for Ismail’s visit, which saw the latter undergo a long wait for passport and immigration clearance at the airport.

Ismail was also not provided security coverage or a motorcade as was the standard procedure.

Noor Farida said if she was Saifuddin, she would lodge a strong protest to the prime minister at the weekly Cabinet meeting over “the way that our ambassador to the UAE was treated”.

“People have been whacking him on Twitter, including yours truly. He deserves it!” FMT

Foreign Minister and not diplomats should take blame over PM’s UAE visit, says Umno veep

JOHOR BARU: The Foreign Minister should shoulder the responsibility over the lack of coordination during the Prime Minister’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), says Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

The Umno vice-president said what happened to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was regrettable but putting the blame entirely on two Malaysian diplomats was unprofessional.

“Blaming everything on our diplomats is very unprofessional. The Foreign Minister should take responsibility for everything that happens.

“He forgot that he is the one who leads Wisma Putra,” said the former Johor mentri besar in a Facebook post on Tuesday (April 12).

“Wisma Putra failed to ensure that he was given the honour in accordance with his position.

“UAE itself is a very welcoming country and of course, if we used all the resources and strength of our friendship network with them, such an incident would not happen,” he said.

He added the failure to plan and manage such an important visit was very embarrassing.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah must take full responsibility for the failure to ensure proper protocol was in place for the Prime Minister’s United Arab Emirate visit.

The former foreign minister said Saifuddin could have handled the situation better and should have held an internal investigation before ordering the recall of the two diplomats.

“As a minister, Saifuddin should have taken full responsibility. I personally would have handled the situation differently and would have urged the internal investigation to be done first,” said the Parti Cinta Sabah president who was foreign minister from 2008-2018.

“Even though Wisma Putra has issued a statement stating that such a recall was nothing out of the ordinary due to their failure to coordinate administrative and logistic matters during the Prime Minister’s visit to the UAE, they should not have recalled the diplomats in haste.

“I have my doubts about such senior and experienced diplomats overlooking important details especially when it involves our Prime Minister,” said Anifah.

Normally, Anifah said that prior to an official visit by the Prime Minister to a foreign country, thorough preparations involving the Foreign Minister would have to be made.

“The Foreign Minister should arrive before the Prime Minister to ensure that the necessary preparations were made on site.

“This is a major embarrassment for our country, and a minister is always responsible for any shortcomings of the ministry,” he said in a statement Tuesday (April 12).

He said recalling the diplomats would reflect badly on the nation as it would be deemed as incapable of organising something as common as a visit of a head of government.

The officers in Wisma Putra are all experienced and those selected to be heads of mission are usually top diplomats and have years of experience under their belts, he added.

“Incidents like this rarely happen and even if it did happen, it could have been prevented had the Foreign Minister been in the UAE beforehand to personally oversee the preparations for the Prime Minister’s visit,” he said.

“The Foreign Minister must be there before the PM’s arrival as it is part of the job of a Foreign Minister and if he failed to be there, he should not have agreed to or ordered the recall of the two diplomats,” Anifah added.

On Monday (April 11), two senior Malaysian diplomats in the UAE were ordered home because they had allegedly failed to coordinate administrative and logistic matters during the Prime Minister’s visit to the country last month.

Wisma Putra said the Malaysian ambassador to the UAE as well as the consul-general in Dubai failed to handle tasks as per the standard operating procedure for high-ranking visits overseas, especially during Ismail Sabri’s arrival in Dubai on March 29.

“The failure resulted in the Prime Minister having to wait long at the normal arrival hall for passport and immigration clearance.

“Also, there was no security coverage such as a motorcade that should have been provided for the Prime Minister,” Wisma Putra said in a statement. ANN

Anifah Aman says a minister is always responsible for any shortcomings of the ministry, and he must defend his officers. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former foreign minister Anifah Aman said his successor, Saifuddin Abdullah should have taken full responsibility over the debacle involving the prime minister’s trip to the United Arab Emirates last month, which led to two diplomats being recalled.

Anifah said he would have called for an internal investigation to be conducted first.

He said even though Wisma Putra has issued a statement, explaining that such a recall was nothing out of the ordinary due to their failure to coordinate administrative and logistic matters during the prime minister’s visit, they should not have been recalled in haste.

“This is a major embarrassment for our country, and a minister is always responsible for any shortcomings of the ministry, and he must defend his officers.

“I have my doubts that such senior and experienced diplomats would overlook important details especially when it involves our prime minister,” he said in a statement.

Anifah went on to say that when he was the foreign minister, he would be on site earlier to ensure the necessary preparations are made.  FMT

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