KUALA LUMPUR: While the reconstruction of battered Baghdad is still being debated, work to refurbish the Iraqi Government’s properties here is already under way.
Workers are conducting repairs at the double-storey building housing the Iraqi Embassy in Jalan Langgak Golf and giving it a paint job. A covered garage is also being built within the compound.
Restoration work at the Iraqi School, next to the embassy, adds to the “air of reconstruction” in the area while renovations at the Iraqi Ambassador’s residence in Jalan U-Thant have just been completed.
Iraqi Ambassador to Malaysia Kais S.A. Al-Yacoubi said although his position was uncertain with the fall of the Saddam Hussein administration, “our properties are here to stay”.
“I may be recalled (back to Baghdad), but whatever happens, these (buildings) belong to the people of Iraq and someone must maintain them.
“My mission (now) is to preserve my country’s heritage and belongings here,” he said in an interview.
The buildings housing the embassy, school and the ambassador’s residence are Iraqi-owned.
Al-Yacoubi explained that the Iraqi Government approved the budget for the repair work in December, a month before he took up his posting here.
The ambassador also said that he would abide by any decision made by the new Iraqi administration on his fate and that of the seven Iraqi diplomatic staff based here.
“If I am recalled, I am prepared to leave for Baghdad, although (my) safety may be a concern. As diplomats, we are professionals.
“I do not know. I may or may not be recalled,” he added.
Al-Yacoubi, who was chief of protocol at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry before coming here, said that while matters were being sorted out in the Iraqi capital, the embassy was presently offering only consular services.
“The consular services are more important compared to political services at this stage. It is like a humanitarian service. Iraqis here may want to register the birth of a baby, or apply for a new passport and extension of stay,” he added.
The ambassador said he and his staff were grateful to the Malaysian Government and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar for allowing the embassy to continue operating.
“Some other countries have ordered our embassies to close, but Malaysia has done what a civilised government would do. This shows the prudence of your Government,” he added.
On how the embassy’s operational costs were being met, Al-Yacoubi said the embassy usually received funds from Iraq to cover a certain period but funds were now running short.
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