KUANTAN: The foreign ministry is in the process of having 25 more people appointed to Malaysian diplomatic missions abroad, foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said today.
He said the number was relatively large, as Malaysia had not been able to send new representatives abroad because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bernama reported.
Saifuddin said several people were awaiting letters of appointment as heads of missions abroad. The ministry was awaiting a date from Istana Negara for the presentation ceremony with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The foreign minister said a long process was involved in appointing a Malaysian head of mission, with various screenings of those nominated. The name of the person must also be sent to the host country for approval.
Saifuddin’s remarks, made to reporters at a constituency event in Pahang, come in the wake of criticism of the appointment of Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman as ambassador to Indonesia.
Tajuddin said today that he had been hurt by comments made about his appointment. “I have served the government, the country and the people for more than 45 years, since I was 25. Now I’m being treated as if I were a homeless person,” he said, according to Utusan Malaysia.
He is expected to leave for his posting to Jakarta next week.
Change of policy about ambassadors
Saifuddin said the current government had done away with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) policy of only choosing career diplomats as heads of missions.
“The government feels there is a need to appoint those who are not diplomatic officers (as heads of missions). They can be a politician, former politician, former police or military officer, and so on.
“During the Barisan Nasional administration, this was the case. It was the PH government that said there can be no appointments other than from among diplomatic officers.
“The current government has decided those who are not diplomatic officers can also be appointed,” he said.