PETALING JAYA: Foreign ministry officials are believed to be fuming after Malaysia’s two senior diplomats in the United Arab Emirates were ordered home and put in cold storage for the lack of official “guest status” for the visit of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to the Emirates last month.
Sources in the know said the ambassador, Tarid Sufian, and the consul-general in Dubai, Hasril Abdul Hamid, 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 for a senior minister of the host country to be officially assigned to receive foreign dignitaries.
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“There were no senior government officials from the UAE to receive them. The reception was not befitting that of a prime minister’s status,” the sources told FMT, adding that it is not known if Ismail is aware of the recall.
Sources told FMT that Tarid and Hasril had been assigned to a pool of civil servants in the public service department in Putrajaya, in essence placed in a cold storage where officers falling out of favour are sent to pending their next move.
Other sources said senior officials in the ministry were fuming over the treatment of the two diplomats.
One source said the ambassador had told Wisma Putra about the UAE government’s reservation on the timing of Ismail’s visit but it was not heeded.
The UAE government had apparently told the Malaysian mission that this was not a suitable time for an official visit in view of the hundreds of VIPs coming from all over the world daily for the Dubai World Expo 2021.
The annual trade gathering is a huge global event postponed from last year because of the pandemic.
“Wisma Putra or the foreign minister should have advised the prime minister to reschedule the visit. This is a major flaw as it involves diplomacy and the reputation of the government,” a source said.
Another source said senior officials are particularly incensed with the minister for not defending his officers from such an action.
“Of course their official reply will be that it is a normal transfer and has nothing to do with the prime minister’s visit. But the staff won’t buy it,” he added.
The foreign minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, had accompanied Ismail on his visit. FMT has sought a response from Saifuddin.