KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s first ambassador to the Holy See, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, accepts the Government’s decision to terminate his service as it is the reality of the present situation.
“I respect the decision of the government of the day. Barisan Nasional has lost,” he said on Tuesday (July 10).
Dompok is among the six politically-appointed diplomats to be recalled after Pakatan Harapan took over the federal administration.
The former Upko president, who was made ambassador in 2016, laughed when asked if he was surprised to lose his job even though his party quit Barisan to team up with Parti Warisan Sabah and Pakatan after the 14th General Election.
Upko’s move helped in the formation of the new Sabah government.
“I don’t know if they see me as Upko,” he said in an interview.
However, Dompok felt that there should be a measure of civility in recalling ambassadors.
“This is the first time there has been a change of government. I hope a proper procedure will be put in place to recall ambassadors in the future,” he said.
Having received a note from Wisma Putra on June 6 to recall him by June 30, Dompok said he was not given much time to bid farewell to officials at the Vatican.
Nonetheless, he said Wisma Putra agreed to an “extension” after he had a talk with them. He returned to Malaysia on Sunday (July 8).
On whether he would take up the offer if he was asked to go back to the Vatican again, Dompok said: “I will cross the bridge when I come to it.”
His contract as ambassador to Vatican City, Malta and Albania was renewed for another two years in January this year.
Dompok said it would be good for Malaysia to be connected with the Vatican as the Holy See’s main thrust was working for the benefit of humanity.
He said he was championing Malaysia’s thrust on world moderation while working on the possibility of setting up a university in Malaysia by tapping on the Vatican’s wealth in education.
“There is nothing much in terms of trade with the Vatican, but I see opportunities in education as the Roman Catholic Church, for centuries, has been running very successful schools and universities, even in Malaysia.
“We can take advantage of their expertise and wealth of knowledge within international chain of universities,” he said.
Dompok said he was already in discussion with universities and was trying to obtain funds from them, adding the Barisan government had given him the green light to pursue the university project.
“It is not about Catholicism. They have universities of international standards, and I think to work with them is very good,” he said.
Dompok believes that Vatican officials might have influenced or contributed to European Union’s move to delay the palm oil ban in biofuel, which was originally set for 2020.
He said his message to the Vatican was that 40% of the palm oil in Malaysia and Indonesia were produced by organised and independent smallholders.