PETALING JAYA: The MCA has criticised the lackadaisical attitude of government officers regarding the handling of a controversial comic book titled "Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism".
In a statement Monday (Oct 21), MCA International Communication and Diplomacy Bureau chairperson Dr Tee Ching Seng said that the excuse cited by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) “leaves readers dumb-founded”.
The PMO had said that the comic book was not an official gift during a meeting between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and China's president Xi Jinping and that it was brought in without going through proper channels.
The two leaders had met at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China in April.
Dr Tee questioned how officers from Wisma Putra could not have known that the comic was not an official gift, especially when it pertains to “such a top-level diplomatic exchange and with seasoned diplomats and other high-ranking civil servants involved in arranging state visits”.
He also queried how PMO officers could be “oblivious” for the comic to have slipped through the screening process, and wondered who passed it to Dr Mahathir.
“Where was the screening process of gifts to be exchanged? Aren’t all government gifts presented to host nations or visiting dignitaries properly selected, vetted through for its appropriateness, recorded down and documented officially?” Dr Tee added.
He said that the breach of protocol would have embarrassed Malaysia if the reading materials had featured topics deemed sensitive or taboo by the Chinese government.
“From this episode, we urge all quarters involved in arranging top-level official visits and meetings to be more meticulous in their coordination and screening, even if it means more time and resources are required to ensure that only appropriate gifts that are well documented on government records are presented, ” said Dr Tee.