Saifuddin: Report on envoy to Russia taken out of context


PUTRAJAYA: A recent report quoting the Malaysian ambassador to Russia as saying the country “will consider any request” from Moscow for the sale of semiconductors was taken out of context, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah.

The Foreign Minister further clarified there were also no discussions between the Malaysian government and Moscow regarding Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot and the Swift international payment system.“I just want to note there was no discussion involving the Malaysian government in relation to increasing exports of semiconductor, issues related to Swift and direct flights between Malaysia and Russia through Aeroflot,” he told the press in a special group interview yesterday.

He said this was to clear any misunderstandings which may affect Malaysia’s interest.

“We don’t want any perceptions and misunderstanding that Malaysia is establishing something new with Russia. Our ties with Russia remains as it is. There are no changes,” he said.

Saifuddin said Wisma Putra had scrutinised and received an explanation from Malaysian ambassador to Russia Datuk Bala Chandran Tharman on the interview with state-backed media outlet Ria Novosti last month.

“I found a few things he mentioned in the interview were taken out of context,” he said.

“Malaysia is a country which exports electrical and electronic products to many countries, including Russia. I would like to explain that there is no new discussion in relation to us exporting more semiconductors to Russia.

“Trade relations with Russia is on a business-to-business basis and the government is not involved in these dealings.”

Bala Chandran was previously also quoted by Russian news agency Sputnik as saying that the issue of direct flights between the two countries is being discussed in the joint Russian-Malaysian commission on economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation.

Meanwhile, Russian banks had been excluded from the international Swift payment and messaging system following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Saifuddin noted that Wisma Putra is currently working with Bank Negara Malaysia to ensure that parents and sponsors are able to send money to Malaysian students in Russia.

“For the time being, our students are using the Union Pay platform,” he said, adding that access to the payment medium is very limited.

The Star reported on March 5 that Malaysian students in Novogorod Oblast and Moscow were facing difficulties withdrawing money from banks that have connections with the United States and Britain as the international banking system has been blocked. Other payment methods have also been disrupted.

Wisma Putra previously said there were 861 Malaysians based in Russia comprising 784 students, 33 expatriates and 44 from the Malaysian diplomatic mission and their dependents.

On another note, Saifuddin said Malaysians who received job offers overseas can check with the Malaysian Representative Office Overseas (Malawakil) to verify whether the job offer is a scam.

This is in light of recent cases of Malaysian youths falling victim to human-trafficking syndicates after being lured with telemarketing and customer service job offers in Cambodia.

He said those wanting to verify the legitimacy of the job offer can email the econsular services and Malawakil.

He also advised job seekers to check thoroughly before taking up such offers.

Saifuddin shared that a group of 16 Malaysians were released recently and there are 20 more who are being held by the Cambodian police.

He added that there were previously 47 Malaysians who were repatriated to Malaysia from Cambodia.

He said the Malawakil in Phnom Penh is following these cases closely, adding that the Malaysian envoy had also written to the Cambodian government to seek for the release of the Malaysians there.

Saifuddin said the government was working with several groups from both countries, including MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong.

“We should give credit to his team for working very hard,” he said.

The issue first came to light when Chong told a press conference on March 30 that several young Malaysians became victims of a human-trafficking syndicate after being lured with telemarketing and customer service job offers in Cambodia and the promise of lucrative pay.

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