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Sunday May 24, 2009

JJ shortlisted for US envoy job

KUALA LUMPUR: Former minister Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis and ambassador-at-large Tan Sri Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid are among four persons being considered for the post of ambassador to the United States.

Jamaluddin was dropped from the Cabinet following the general election last year, while Ghazzali had served as ambassador to the United States from 1999 to 2006.

The top-notch posting has been vacant since June 20 last year after the retirement of Datuk Rajmah Hussain, a career diplomat.

The other two nominees are a politician and a career diplomat.

Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman, who disclosed this to The Star, said he would submit the shortlist to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak within a week.

“I was shocked that the posting has not been filled for about a year, as the US is our biggest trading partner.

“The person (to be made ambassador to the US) must be influential and have the ability to communicate and understand, and know the economic and political system of that country. It’s not just about work per se,” he added.

Anifah, who replaced Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim as Foreign Minister last month, said he would also recommend the best candidate to Najib.

“I am weighing the pros and cons. Do we need a new person with a new approach?

“I am also seeking advice from previous ambassadors posted there, people who have been through a lot (in the US),” he added.

The minister, who returned from a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington last week, said he would not discriminate in picking Malaysia’s representatives overseas.

“I want to get the best people to serve and it doesn’t really matter if the person is a career diplomat or politician. I will go strictly on merit,” he added.

Anifah also said that the China posting would become vacant soon, adding that the tenure of Datuk Zainal Abidin Zain as ambassador to Indonesia had been extended.

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