Tajuddin not the right candidate for ambassador role, says former senior diplomat

PETALING JAYA: Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman is not the right candidate to be appointed as ambassador to Indonesia, says a former senior diplomat.

Foreign policy consultant and former ambassador Datuk Dennis Ignatius said Tajuddin’s appointment stood to diminish Malaysia’s international standing.

"He has shown himself to be crude, rude and entirely lacking in the kind of skills which are required of an ambassador," said Ignatius when contacted.

Ignatius opined that Indonesia, which was Malaysia’s most important bilateral partner, deserved a better candidate as a Malaysian ambassador.

He added that Tajuddin’s appointment would put Indonesia in a difficult position.

However, Ignatius stressed that he was not tied to the idea that only career diplomatic officials should be appointed as ambassadors.

He clarified that regardless of whether the ambassadorial candidate was a career diplomat or a political appointee, the individual must be able to function well at the post and carry out his responsibilities with a high degree of professionalism.

The retired diplomat highlighted how politicians like the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and the late Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin had made brilliant ambassadors.

Unfortunately, most politicians who were appointed as ambassadors did not make the cut, said Ignatius.

According to Ignatius the political appointees did not perform well and were rarely committed to the job, the protocol that came with it, the endless meetings, receptions and networking.

This more often than not resulted in the officers working under these mediocre ambassadors ending up doing all the work.

"It becomes a holiday appointment at the taxpayers’ expense," said Ignatius.

Meanwhile, former high commissioner to Singapore, Datuk Dr Ilango Karuppannan said Tajuddin's appointment may not necessarily be an "unmitigated disaster".

"Of course, Wisma Putra would not like it because it deprives one ambassadorial post. So, Tajuddin must work smart," he said.

Dr Ilango said Tajuddin should leave the real work of handling bilateral relations to the diplomats in the embassy and Wisma Putra.

"He should not be making public statements without a script from the embassy," Dr Ilango stressed.

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