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Envoys decide to comply after all
Published on: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The two politically-appointed ambassadors who earlier declined to cut short their appointments as ordered by Wisma Putra, have done so since.

Both had expressed unwillingness to return home and indicated that they would continue in their present capacity for a while more but have relented after being informed that their salaries and allowance would be suspended.

It was earlier reported that Malaysia's first ambassador to the Vatican Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, ambassador to Finland Puan Sri Blanche O'Leary, Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taiwan president Datuk Adeline Leong and the High Commissioner to Brunei Datuk Ghulam Jelani Khanizaman, who were all appointed by the previous government, were ordered home.

However, one of them was looking for another foreign posting while the other asked for his tenure to be extended until the end of his term. But both requests, believed to be from Blanche and Dompok, were not entertained.

Blanche is the wife of Tan Sri M Kayveas, who earlier lost his leadership in People's Progressive Party (PPP). Both apparently refused to comply with the orders, using the excuse that the letter from the Ministry was not signed by the Minister but a senior staff of Wisma Putra.

Their argument was that they were appointed by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak based on the recommendations of then Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

There were 15 designated ambassadors-in-waiting, all of who are career diplomats, to fill up the vacancies of the four.

"These would-be ambassadors are experienced and qualified officers for the job.

They are all ready for deployment," a source said.

The source added that the Ministry would be strict in appointing the heads of mission from now onwards.

"These posts would only be reserved for career diplomats and those who served the Ministry.

There will be no more political appointees to such positions," he said.

Meanwhile, former ambassador praised the Foreign Ministry's decision to stop appointing politicians to head Malaysian missions overseas.

Noor Farida Ariffin, a former ambassador to the Netherlands, said politicians usually did not understands the work of a diplomat.

"When a politician is appointed as ambassador, most of the work in the embassy will fall on the diplomatic officers. The politician will attend only to programmers where they are needed, such as networking.

"Many of them have no experience (in handling diplomatic duties) and this will burden the embassy's staff," she said.

Among the politicians appointed by the previous government as ambassadors affected by the new policy are the envoys to Indonesia and the Vatican City.

The contract for former Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia, Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, was terminated four months ahead of the actual date in October.

Malaysian envoy to Vatican City Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, meanwhile, was reported to have returned to Malaysia following instructions from Wisma Putra.

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