Wisma Putra Responds


February 16, 2012

http://www.thestar.com.my

Wisma Putra Responds

by Ahmad Rozian Abdul Ghani

On February 9, The Star’s Diplomatically Speaking columnist Dennis Ignatiuus wrote a commentary on ‘Wisma Putra adrift in foreign affairs’. We publish a reply from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in response to his article.–The Star

I REFER to the article by Dennis Ignatiuus in his column, Diplo­matically Speaking entitled “Wisma Putra adrift in foreign affairs”.

We are grateful the writer has acknowledged that in managing foreign policy in this millennium, like other countries, we need to effectively confront the many challenges in the constantly-changing global environment.

Addressing challenges affecting the nation has been an on-going pursuit to protect and advance our national interest and the well-being of all Malaysians.

The contention that there was no serious foreign policy review after the Mahathir administration needs to be corrected and placed in the proper perspective.There has indeed been regular foreign policy reviews to respond to domestic realities and the changing external environment.

Since independence, Malaysia’s foreign policy approach has been attuned to the changing political, economic and security environment.In the past few years, the consolidation of relationships with our strategic partners in both developing and developed countries has become the focus.

The emphasis now is more on substantive relations and less on the rhetoric.With the dynamic and ever-changing realities of the interdependent and borderless world, there is no denying that Malaysia’s foreign policy continues to be resilient in adjusting and adapting to the country’s domestic policies and external environment.

The government led by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is committed in seeing through the various natio- nal transformation programmes introduced including the Govern-ment Transformation Programme, the Economic Transformation Prog­ramme and the New Economic Model.

Wisma Putra’s Strategic Plan between 2009 and 2015 serves as a clear guideline of our foreign policy objectives and direction.The plan provides a mechanism to assess and evaluate the impact and outcome of Malaysia’s foreign policy focus and priorities in both tangible and intangible aspects.

This plan is in tandem with all government transformation programmes. Special mention must be made of our retired ambassadors in sharing their constructive ideas and suggestions in the formulation of our foreign policy.

Our relations with the neighbouring countries have continued to be strengthened and a number of long-standing sticky issues amicably resolved.

Bilateral visits by our leaders are carefully planned and not without deliverables. The fostering of meaningful bilateral relationships and the shaping of long-term strategic partnerships bring tangible benefits both to our nation and our citizens.

It is for this purpose, as was practised before, that the Government, with the support of Wisma Putra, appointed accomplished personalities to be Malaysia’s special envoys to countries of strategic importance to Malaysia, including China, India and the United States.

The appointment of these special envoys serves as another crucial channel to further deepen and broaden ties, particularly in the area of trade and investment as well as explore other opportunities for Malaysia. Their appointment has proven to complement rather than diminish the role of ambassadors or the ministry.

The A-Team in Wisma Putra

Malaysia continues to contribute meaningfully in other areas of international affairs, even in the post-Mahathir era.We remain active in multilateral diplomacy, helming the Non-Aligned Movement (2003-2006) and the OIC (2003-2008), providing leadership to these two important multilateral organisations to address the dynamics and challenges of the changing global environment.

Within the United Nations system, we maintain our high profile serving as President of the second highest principal organ of the UN, the Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc, 2009-2010), Chairman of the Fifth Committee of the 64th UN General Assembly and currently Chairman of the Third Committee of the 66th UN General Assembly, to name a few.

We remain engaged on the issue of the reform and restructuring of the UN and had played a constructive role in the formation of the UN Human Rights Council.We continue to articulate the need for justice and fairness in the formulation of resolutions in response to the global political, economic and social challenges.

We never cease to contribute to global peace and security not only through ideas but deeds such as our involvements in peace-making and peace-keeping endeavours in many parts of the world. Malaysia’s initiative to promote the ideal of moderation against extremism, including terrorism, is an example.

The Global Movement of Mode­rates espoused by the Prime Minister in 2010 at the United Nations has received positive and constructive support from various leaders of other countries as well as in regional and international fora such as ASEAN, ASEM and the Commonwealth.

As ASEAN continues to be the cornerstone of our foreign policy, Malaysia has devoted significant attention to it to ensure it plays a meaningful role in global affairs and improving the welfare of its citizens.

One of the key components to realise this is the establishment of a rules-based approach to manage inter-state relations in this region.The respect that ASEAN enjoys is no small achievement for Malaysia and our partners. We have leverage on this to amplify our presence in non-Asean led initiatives such as APEC and theTrans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

We are confident that Malaysia, with the support of other ASEAN members, will achieve more in 2015 when Malaysia assumes the chairmanship of ASEAN – the year a true ASEAN Community will be created.

On English language skills, as one of the most widely-used international languages, proficiency in it remains important to the ministry. It would be flawed to assert that by giving some space to the use of the National Language in the ministry, it would weaken English proficiency among officers.

The ministry also encourages its officers to learn other major languages to promote multilingual skills.

Wisma Putra remains sensitised to evolving developments and vigilant in the protection and promotion of our interests, defending our sovereignty and safeguarding our territorial integrity.

With the Government determined to successfully implement the various transformation programmes including 1Malaysia, key performance indicators have been set to measure and improve the efficiency and quality of government services.With this mechanism in place, none of the ministries or other government agencies can afford to run on autopilot.

If and when Ignatiuus is back in Malaysia, we would certainly welcome him to visit the ministry to share his wisdom while at the same time keep him abreast with the current developments in Wisma Putra and Malaysia.

Ahmad Rozian is Undersecretary of Information and Public Diplomacy, Foreign Affairs Ministry.

77 thoughts on “Wisma Putra Responds

  1. With three pieces on Wisma Putra, I have said enough. Now over to you guys to consider this Wisma Putra response to Dennis’ article in the Star. Please deal with the issues in this Rozian piece.–Din Merican

  2. While we do appreciate Wisma Putra’s rebuttal, it, however, is poorly crafted, more rhetoric than substance. Indeed, it is perfunctory at best, sorry to say that.

    As a very recently retired Head of Mission, I was in Cairo – guess along with Ahmad Rozian, if I am not mistaken – when former Foreign Minister, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, met 27 Heads of our Mission in Africa and the Middle East for a regional Heads of Mission Conference, April 7, 2008 soon after he assumed the foreign affairs portfolio.

    FM Rais gave a candid and very refreshing speech. Following are excerpts of his speech:

    a) “…we at Wisma Putra must also change some of our set theories and practices.”

    b) ” You will remember that some of the passion that we once had are now no longer there.”

    c) “… nothing is perfect without practice. Certain matters have to be repeated over and over again in order that they stay in the inner sanctum of our minds. Even the Al-Fatihah, you will agree, needs to be uttered again and again – even then we often forget its significance and real meaning both of which should have become the real guiding beacons of the life on earth.”

    d) “For half a century we have done well. We have produced what I unabashedly would say to be our best products of thinkers and doers….But as against some of our competing neighbours we must admit we have lost out some glimmers.

    e)” We seem to have lost the gleam and cutting edge of certain aspects of our work as representatives of our country. In foreign affairs work, some countries in Asia have surpassed us in a number of areas. For example in the creation of pools of experts. …in shaping opinions of influence” (Singapore for example has always managed to have positive mentions in primier media).

    f) “We now have much to recoil. Thereafter we have to create a few new trends and put them into effect. New initiatives must be identified and pursued to put us back in the proper saddle of proper gallop.”

    g) “we must believe in a strident, progressive and achieving Foreign Affairs Ministry – where lingual, intellectual and implementation powess come into play side by side.i) We want our ambassadors and staff to be looked at as efficient, reliable and achieving lot overseas as well at home. ii) To sharpen our lingual ability and with that our negotiating skills.”

    h) “Diplomacy, interaction, communication, poise in cordiality and friendship – all need one thing, LANGUAGE CAPABILITY.

    i) “Wisma Putra will have to create the report card system for all ambassadors and staff.”

    j)” … let us pray to Allah to give us His blessings that the family of Wisma Putra thrive and throw asunder the unmotivated and instead welcome the initiated and resourceful.”

    Rozian what has Wisma Putra done to implement former FM Rais’ instructions/advice/recommendations/ideas/ proposals/ suggestions?

    Please secure a copy of the said speech for the perusal of FM Anifah, DFMs, KSU and also circulate to all officers and staff.

  3. I read the Wisma Putra response to Dennis and am surprised that Dato Din Merican’s articles and the comments of his readers were not considered. They all discussed the flaws of Wisma Putra. Allow me to make 2 points:

    1. Rozian’s reply is a classic example of what the French would call “Dialogue de Sourds” or dialogue of the deaf. Instead of providing thoughtful explanation, his response in fact reinforces Dennis’ assertion that ” We appear to be on autopilot now, running on yesterday’s achievement and drawing inspiration from an outdated playbook”.

    There are no new initiatives from Najib. The coalition of the moderates, what is that? First Ladies Conference? Does this bring any benefit to Malaysia? Badawi for his faults did a lot on the Foreign Policy front. He did not make concessions to Singapore on crucial bilateral issues, for example. Badawi reversed Mahathir’s policies much to the chagrin of the Octogenarian.

    The shallowness of his reply is shocking given that he was for many years, the special officer of a now retired KSU (Rastam Isa). During that time he should have had the opportunity to gain a better perspective of foreign policy challenges that Dennis and Din Merican have been talking about in their articles. Maybe these issues are difficult to handle by the present crop of officers in Wisma Putra.

    2. Rozian is being condescending and patronizing in suggesting that Dennis is ignorant of developments in Wisma Putra and Malaysia. This is laughable given that some of our Ambassadors like Zakaria Sulong in the UK are ignorant about Malaysia and the country they serve in.Furthermore, why the need to call anyone to One Wisma Putra to see things for himself. All we want is an effective, competent and professional foreign service. And that means radical changes are required starting from the top.

    If this is the way Wisma Putra responds to constructive criticisms, there is not much hope that our Foreign Ministry will improve, and be given a key role in the shaping of Malaysia’s foreign policy and its implementation. Important issues like bilateral relations with Singapore (the water issue, KTM Land, Iskandar Region and the Pulau Batu Putih ICJ decision) are conveniently ignored.

  4. I’m not surprised that Rais’ instructions/directive, et al have not been implemented, tuan Ex Head of Mission. It too looks like it was drafted by some low-level minion in the ministry and Rais’ like the dutiful Bolehland Minister just read it out warts and all. I dont need to point out the grammatical and spelling errors, which the speechwriter tried to cover by being alternatively pompous and bombastic. So much for language capability.

    In any case, if someone had asked Rais if he remembered what he said after he stepped out of the hall, my bottom dollar would be on him having some memory loss as shopping and sights beckoned. Much less him actually believing what he had said.

    In short, it was just a good holiday trip on the guise of getting to know the staff. And that seems to be the crux of the problem pervading the whole of WP. Nothing solid, no nuanced approach to how the Mid East or any other issues should be approached, no elaboration of the official thinking back home. Just some homilies at a boy scout retreat.

    So if that was the message that came from the top, how not to excuse the rot eating away at the middle and bottom levels.

  5. One small question for those guys formulating the country’s foreign policy. Why hasn’t Malaysia signed the 1967 Protocol pursuant to the 1954 U.N. Convention Relating to Refugees?

  6. What a rebuttal from Wisma Putra. Laying reasons for excuses of incompetency and missing the big picture totally. Mediocre!.

  7. “On English language skills, as one of the most widely-used international languages, proficiency in it remains important to the ministry.”

    Don’t you think we already know that? What we would like to know is what steps are you guys taking to stop Malaysian diplomats less than fully conversant in the language from making a mockery of the country?? It is an embarassment to have to listen to Malaysian diplomats making fools of themselves.

  8. ” ….. wisma putra appointed accomplished personalities to be Malaysia’s special envoys to countries of strategic importance to Malaysia ….. “. – from article above .

    Our accomplished bottom pincher in Washington is also one of our
    ” accomplished personalities ” ?

  9. “..it, however, is poorly crafted, more rhetoric than substance. Indeed, it is perfunctory at best, sorry to say that.”. -Ex-Head of Mission

    I wrote the same thing and about to press the “send” button when I found out “Ex-Head of Mission” beat me to it.

    Yes, many words but NO substance. Such write-up is only good for Wisma Putra publicity brochures and of NO value as a response to the comments made by Dennis Ignatuus.

    Again, it is obvious this piece was drafted by a very JUNIOR bureaucrat in Wisma Putra and submitted to the Undersecretary of Information and Public Diplomacy, Foreign Affairs Ministry where he must have add or remove a few words or sentences and then put his name next to it.

    The writeup only confirm what I had said about WISMA PUTRA bureaucrats from the top down: OTAK MALAS.

    Ahmad Rozian, I ask, where is the “beef ” in your writeup? Still remain in the cows relaxing in the condos in Bungsar, perhaps.

  10. Rozian what has Wisma Putra done to implement former FM Rais’ instructions/advice/recommendations/ideas/ proposals/ suggestions? Please secure a copy of the said speech for the perusal of FM Anifah, DFMs, KSU and also circulate to all officers and staff.- Ex-Head of Mission

    The bureacrats in Wisma Putra DON’T READ and they are not good vessels for institutional memory.

    When they are the OTAK MALAS type, you can’t expect them to read what was written about their work culture. And the other reason they don’t read or perhaps NOT AWARE of what their ex-foreign minister had said is, besides OTAK MALAS, but also BODOH SOMBONG.

  11. He’s not really responding to the criticisms but rather giving us the common rhetorics. Why the need to butter up Najib so much in this article?

    ” It is for this purpose, as was practised before, that the Government, with the support of Wisma Putra, appointed accomplished personalities to be Malaysia’s special envoys to countries of strategic importance to Malaysia, including China, India and the United States.”

    Why do we love to over-hire so much? What’s the task of the ambassadors then?

    P/s: Makcik, if you think coming here is a waste of time then why are you here?

  12. He is here to waste his time. It is his free speech right protected by the country’s Constitution. Except that this is private space and the bloghost not being a state actor is not bound to follow the Constitution.

  13. The decline (not adrift) in Wisma Putra is in tandum with the across-the-board decline of all institutions right from the office of the PM, his Cabinest, the civil service, judiciary, police force, education and down to the ketua kampong.
    Rozian’s reply confirms that.

  14. Yeah, terrible Manglish. For instance, what does this sentence actually mean?:
    “Our relations with the neighbouring countries have continued to be strengthened and a number of long-standing sticky issues amicably resolved.”
    Sounds vulgar. “Sticky” issues indeed! Colloquialism or what?

    Substantive issues of the quality, if not quantity of Malaysian diplomats is the real crux of the matter. It’s no use having a super-duper ‘strategic policy’ when the practitioner’s articulate at the level of barely literate adolescents.

  15. CLF, try to check out the super duper “strategic policy”. It’s neither “strategic nor policy” as the scholar Johan Savarimuttu laments in his book that was reviewed here not long ago. The guys at the ministry are just stringing words together to make it sound like bombastic. The strategic report thing was done during Rais Yatim as a self promotion exercise and the ministry conveniently tries to forget the existence of the document unless their memory is jogged from time to time to write such vacuous replies.

  16. A form six student can draft a write up like that. Disgraceful indeed. When I saw the heading Wisma Putra responding, I was looking for something substantive, possibly a good rebuttal. No, it turns out to be just another OTAK MALAS bureaucratic piece.

  17. You guys have obviously read about the unconscionable deportation of the alleged Saudi ‘heretic’ Hamza Kashguri, back to face a possible death sentence.

    Simple folk like me just wanna know, what role WP played in this SNAFU? And how they are going to contain the negative fall-out of ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’ by our most ‘Moderate’ Administration? I wouldn’t bother to ask the Home-Minister, who has confused his anterior and posterior orifices.

  18. This is the kind of answers you receive from our ministries these days.

    It’s rather fortunate that the Foreign Ministry officer volunteered a response in spite of the time lapse. Some won’t even bother to reply, let alone take notice of the complaint. It’s similar to the “Aduan tuan akan/sedang diselidik” crap that we receive from the Police and local councils whenever we submit a written complaint.

    Ahmad Rozian should have simply said, “Aduan Tuan akan/sedang diselidik” rather than making a nonsensical pronouncement which gets many of us here agitated.

  19. True, Frank. This is not a rebuttal but merely a chance to throw some more talking points.

    “The government led by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is committed in seeing through the various natio- nal transformation programmes introduced including the Govern-ment Transformation Programme, the Economic Transformation Prog­ramme and the New Economic Model.”

    Where have I read that before? Looks and sounds very familiar. Why couldn’t they also list down the “sticky” issues that have “resolved” amicably?

  20. Got to agree with the general consensus about the declining quality of diplomats, sadly the result of the NEP and overzealous race policies. It getting to be more about rewarding accomplices than strategy.

    But certainly relations with our neighbor has improved, Johor is developing as a direct result. And it could be even better. Then again I am not sure if this was a strategy or just an oversight, Malaysia’s relationship with its neighbors has always been contentious even with ASEAN.

    But integration with our neighbors is only beneficiary if we weren’t so myopic and insular.

    As for past and present foreign policies, it hasn’t change much from the old convoluted strategies ….. a face for every occasion. Playing the game? yes. Did we really needed to ? All I could see was the need to satisfy a Islamic facade. If we weren’t ruled by a UMNO government, it would have been unnecessary and counter productive.

    Seriously, if we are sincere in our pact with our neighbor, our policies need not be so vague.

  21. The writer refers to ASEAN Community by 2015; ASEAN Economic Community should be the correct one. He should know the difference, but I suspect he does not. Good luck.

  22. i would simply say that this crap was written out of anger and emotions..what kind of crap this rozian is thinking..not professional and worse, he even questioned the credibility of Dennis Ignatius. Rozian is very emotional person i guess. On top of all that, his article still tried to lick the arse of the government quoting the GTP rubbish that has nothing much to do with foreign policy. He even licked deeper by stating the PM’s Global movement of moderates effort as if this effort was a Nobel Prize Winner.

    The style he wrote also reflected that he was not happy with Tun Mahathir’s era and trying to make the point by undermining efforts of Tun Mahathir. If I was the KSU, I would have called up this arse kisser and fired him. Even i am not an avid supporter of Mahathir. He could have at least addressed him with TUN. Afterall Rozian, you are a government servant.

    Emotional, sensitive, ignorant – thats exactly what this article is.

    This is exactly what these arrogant bastards in Wisma Putra think of themselves. They never reflect at themselves, how messed up they are and they will never take any criticism constructively.

    If this Rozian was not a sissy, he would have at least addressed some shortcomings in Wisma Putra and explain how to constructively make improvements.

    What a shame and disgrace!

  23. I am sorry Democrat to prick your bubble but Rozian is right-it is the ASEAN Community by 2015.

    The ASEAN Community is something that will be supported by 3 communities or pillars namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. You seems like an interested reader, please visit the ASEAN secretariat website.

  24. Mohsen,

    ASEAN community is not something that can be established overnight. It is an ongoing exercise. 2015 is the target date for the establishment of an ASEAN economic community. I am not sure whether that target can be met. That is my personal opinion since I am an ASEAN skeptic.

    There is ASEAN Vision 2020 where you have the beginnings of an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community and ASEAN Political-Security Community. ASEAN Community like the European Community is an ongoing exercise. You seem to lack a basic understanding of what the word “community” means in the ASEAN or EU context.

  25. Dato Din,

    I am NOT wiser after reading Wisma Putra’s (Ahmad Rozian) response. Reading it was like eating “biskut leman or biskut masuk angin”. Why like this one? No theme, no flow, no coherence, and no meat. With the caliber of people who head Wisma Putra, I am convinced that the best they can come out with is “cut and paste” work by the internal 27-member Special Committee of writers.

    Don’t talk that “… ASEAN continues to be the cornerstone of our foreign policy…”. Even Laos does not speak like that any more. Another point – Rozian says “We are confident that Malaysia…..will achieve more in 2015 when Malaysia assumes the chairmanship of ASEAN – the year a true ASEAN Community will be created”.

    I have also worked as a seconded Malaysian officer in the ASEAN Secretriat in Jakarta for 10 over years as a senior official – no one in the Secretriat or in the member states has ever talked or spoken of “a real” ASEAN Community. Just SHOCKING.

  26. Why the big fuss over diplomacy and the role of Wisma Putra or the competency of its officers? A diplomat can only as good as the country he represents. If it is shitty you represent shit !!It is more of a reflection of the internal decay in Malaysia and spilling over into the international arena. Early days under Tunku foreign policy was straight forward pro West and Commonwealth relations that served us well during KONFRONTASI . Then Tun Razaks and Hussein Onn’s Non -Aligned heydays and relations with PRC Then Tun Mamak’s all bluster and thunder..leading role in regional organizations ( ASEAN, OIC, D8 etc.)and anti West in public and groveling to the West in private. Thus millions paid to lobbyists Abrahamovich for a George Bush 2 handshake. Same thing with Pak Lah and Najib and lots of personal money parked overseas. Ex Ambassador Dennis is always critical of Wisma Putra and is the typical throw the stone and hide his hands character. One time even claimed he would be KSU if he is an Abdullah. Now he is Reverend Dennis Ignatius living in cold frozen in Ottawa,and gets loose change from the STAR !! Just give his article a wide berth !!!

  27. Also the appointments of special envoys like Samy Velu, Ong Ka Ting and other unemployed politicians like Ibrahim Saad as Ambassador, Anifah Aman’s crony in Cambodia (Kampuchea used during Pol Pot), JJ in USA, ex general in Paris,PPP president Kayevas” wife in Papua New Guinea are hand outs by Najib to serve his personal and BNs interest and beyond the control of Wisma Putra.

  28. ” We appear to be on autopilot now, running on yesterday’s achievement and drawing inspiration from an outdated playbook”.FPO

    a very fitting description and i wonder if at all a playbook exists!

    I doubt WP realises that they are there to protect the interests of our country, that whatever they say or do should be beneficial to the country they are representing not otherwise. the taxpayers are not paying them to go overseas and debate.

    WP reflects the workings of a malaysian govt office/ministry. the senior officers(top floor) are only ‘Platzhalters’, the real work will be done by a junior officer who knows not what he is doing unless he has someone below him who knows something, mostly a non.

    transformation, movement of the moderates (who thought of this, sounds like the movement in the lower alimentary canal), ASEAN this and ASEAN that, 1malaysia, 1crap, 1care and 1people.
    is Malaysia only a slogan, empty, hollow, void?? yes, it looks like we’ve come a long way….down!

  29. Our accomplished bottom pincher in Washington is also one of our ” accomplished personalities ” ? rosita – February 16, 2012 at 10:00 am
    ————————
    Bottom pinching is a national pastime in Italy. It’s just the way Italian males show their appreciation. Why? You have never had your bottom pinched by an Italian man before? There are lots of Italian American women here who would love to have their bottoms pinched once in a while.

  30. “Malaysia’s initiative to promote the ideal of moderation against extremism, including terrorism, is an example.” — Ahmad Rozian, Undersecretary of Information and Public Diplomacy

    Moderation? Malaysia a moderate Muslim country? I am not sure if that is the image Malaysia generates on the domestic front. This government has long led a schizophrenic existence. It says one thing and does another.

    Islamization of the country is an on-going process that has reached levels never before seen and mostly during the tenure of Mahathir Mohamad (perhaps because his tenure as PM stretched over two decades i.e. the longest) notwithstanding some 40% of its population are non-Muslims. Partly it is to counter PAS influence among conservative Malays.

    Mahathir himself is a medical doctor and a moderate Muslim. But as PM he went on record as the only Prime Minister who made the dubious declaration against the face of his country’s constitution that Malaysia is an Islamic state. We now see churches being torched, lifeless bodies being snatched from hospital mortuaries and Malays (deemed Muslims by law) being jailed for daring to change their religion. This is the face of Malaysia in international circles. Hardly that of a moderate Muslim nation.

    Wisma Putra has long mired in a cesspool of mediocrity acting more as a personal tool of this former Prime Minister. Over time overseas postings come to be increasingly deemed as rewards farmed out to the politically connected. The doctrine of civil service neutrality is good only as concepts among aspiring bureaucrats in passing civil service exams. Foreign service is but a mirror image of what is happening in other parts of the civil service. Foreign service personnel are no longer seen as the glamor boys and girls of the civil service but bungling idiots making fools of themselves before the international community with their poor mastery of the English language.
    ___________
    Mr. Pimp…,why did we allow one man to dominate our lives for so long? Mea culpa. We are equally guilty. It is convenient to blame him for all our problems. How often I kick myself for that, but I realise we cannot change the past. I am concerned that having seen the consequences of our indifference and our gullibility, how can we shape a better future for our country.It is by going back to the fundamentals of nationhood, starting with the Rule of Law, rebuilding trust, and returning to first principles of human relationships (mutual respect, tolerance, integrity, and dignity). It is not too late to rebuild our institutions like Wisma Putra so that we are taken seriously by our neighbours and the rest of the world, if we all care.–Din Merican

  31. There is term used to describe Ahmad Rozian’s or rather the draft prepared by Wisma Putra junior staff in his office.

    … Washy-washy Motherhood statements.

    It is a waste of time trying to analyse such an article. You can’t give credibility to wishy-washy statements

    If Ahmad Rozian claims he actually wrote the whole article by himself, then it is worse; it shows clearly symptoms of OTAK MALAS of senior bureaucrats like himself.

  32. Where is Johan R @ Johan Ariff Abdul Razak ? — to come to the defence of this Ahmad Rozian? Surely he must have a lot to say about this.

  33. Malaysian has not signed the U.N. Protocol of 1967, has refused to be a party because then it could treat the 2.0 million illegals within its borders with impunity, exploiting them for their cheap labor, denying them of their basic human rights in the process and the haven that Malaysia has become to human traffickers is now legendary.

    What does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do to correct the image of the ugly Malaysian abroad?

  34. Why did we allow one man to dominate our lives for so long? Mea culpa. We are equally guilty. It is convenient to blame him for all our problems. How often I kick myself for that, but I realise we cannot change the past. — Din Merican

    Why? Because he is PM and we are not. That’s why. Because we do not have a government that is of the people, by the people and for the people. True. We cannot change the past. But we could at least admit our mistakes and move on to make amends for policies that have not served us well as a people and as a nation. We have not even begun to do so.

    Our foreign policy under Mahathir Mohamad became the mirror image of his struggle with his personal demons. It is in the past. But unless we admit to the error of our ways we are condemned to repeat them.

  35. Mr Bean… refugee issue is a domestic policy. No matter how hard the MFA could try, if the lead agency, Home Affairs doesn’t agree, then the matter won’t pass the cabinet. There are considerations that KDN has that are of national interests. Foreign Policy is a reflection of domestic interest first.

    But of course for some commenters here, they would say, oh that is because the MFA has such low standing in the cabinet, that KDN has primacy over the issue of refugees. Then some will blame the Minister and the KSU.. oh well… that figures .. herd mentality… the opposing kind or maybe the frustrated one.
    ____________
    Welcome, Madam Ambassador. Ministries tend to protect and expand their empires. Surely, the KSUs can work together with the KSN playing an effective coordinating role, if they focus on service to King and country and not pander to the politicians, fearful that their prospects for career advancement will be jeopardised if they don’t kowtow to the politicians. Remember civil servants are protected by a Civil Service Commission which regulates their conduct.

    Foreign policy is above domestic politics because it is closely linked to the way we see and project ourselves vis-a-vis the rest of the world. The image we project on to the world stage must be consistent and not subject to the vagaries of political games we play at home.–Din Merican

  36. ” Makcik , if you think coming here is a waste of time , then why are you here ? ” – didi

    Saya sama berpendapat dengan Didi . Kenapa baduwa macam makcik datang ke sini? Baduwa sama seperti makcik boleh lah pergi ke blog lain !

  37. Rozian is the front line officer of Wisma Putra for public diplomacy. If this is the best he can do then he needs to be replaced NOW.

    His product simply stinks ! Its a cut and paste job. Rozian simply cobbled together statements thats been used elsewhere into some gobbledygook. For example he says “the respect that ASEAN enjoys is no small achievement for Malaysia and our partners. We have leverage on this to amplify our presence in non-Asean led initiatives such as APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”

    What is the meaning of leveraging and amplifying in APEC and TPP when Wisma doesn’t even participate in either??? I hope he understands the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping. Again Wisma is NOT the main player in these activities.

    Please write something in your own words lah !
    ___________
    I understand there is a 27-member Council of Wise Men in Wisma Putra which meets to draft statement, etc. So I am not surprised then that a horse is a camel put together by a committee.–Din Merican

  38. Oooops I meant that Wisma Putra is NOT a main player in peacekeeping. I was so disturbed by the rotten junk that even my typing has been affected.

  39. DEAR AHMAD ROZIAN,

    I QUOTE BELOW SOME PARTS OF YOUR REBUTTAL, AND I WOULD LIKE TO POSE TO YOU CERTAIN QUESTIONS ON THEM.

    The contention that there was no serious foreign policy review after the Mahathir administration needs to be corrected and placed in the proper perspective. There has indeed been regular foreign policy reviews to respond to domestic realities and the changing external environment.

    CAN YOU GIVE SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES? MAKING AN ASSERTION WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF EVIDENCE IS MERE RHETORIC.

    Since independence, Malaysia’s foreign policy approach has been attuned to the changing political, economic and security environment. In the past few years, the consolidation of relationships with our strategic partners in both developing and developed countries has become the focus.

    CAN YOU GIVE SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES? MAKING AN ASSERTION WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF EVIDENCE IS MERE RHETORIC.

    The emphasis now is more on substantive relations and less on the rhetoric. With the dynamic and ever-changing realities of the interdependent and borderless world, there is no denying that Malaysia’s foreign policy continues to be resilient in adjusting and adapting to the country’s domestic policies and external environment.

    CAN YOU GIVE SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES? MAKING CLAIMS WITHOUT SUBSTANTIATION IS INDEED MERE RHETORIC.

    Wisma Putra’s Strategic Plan between 2009 and 2015 serves as a clear guideline of our foreign policy objectives and direction. The plan provides a mechanism to assess and evaluate the impact and outcome of Malaysia’s foreign policy focus and priorities in both tangible and intangible aspects.

    WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US THE THRUST OF WISMA PUTRA’S STRATEGIC PLAN. I CANNOT FIND IT ON THE WISMA PUTRA WEBSITE, NOT EVEN A SUMMARY OF IT. IF YOU TELL ME THE STRATEGIC PLAN IS CONFIDENTIAL, DON’T BLAME PEOPLE FOR COMPLAINING THAT THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT WISMA PUTRA IS GOOD FOR.

    This plan is in tandem with all government transformation programmes. Special mention must be made of our retired ambassadors in sharing their constructive ideas and suggestions in the formulation of our foreign policy.

    THIS IS NOT TRUE. WISMA PUTRA SHUNS THE RETIRED AMBASSADORS. GOOD IDEAS LIKE THE FORMATION OF A COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS HAD BEEN IGNORED, FOR FEAR OF COMPETITION I WAS TOLD.

    Our relations with the neighbouring countries have continued to be strengthened and a number of long-standing sticky issues amicably resolved.

    WHY DID WISMA PUTRA NOT PREVENT 434 ACRES OF KTM LAND IN SINGAPORE BEING TRADED AWAY FOR EXTREMELY VERY LITTLE IN RETURN. WHY HAS WISMA PUTRA NOT SECURED THE SOVEREIGN OWNERSHIP OF SOUTH LEDGE, EVEN AFTER MORE THAN 3 YEARS SINCE THE ICJ ASKED MALAYSIA TO NEGOTIATE WITH SINGAPORE? WHY HAS WISMA PUTRA NOT PURSUED THE DEMOLITION OF THE CAUSEWAY AND REPLACE IT WITH A STRAIGHT, NOT CROOKED, BRIDGE. THESE QUESTIONS PERTAIN ONLY TO ONE OF THE NEIGHBOURS. MANY MORE QUESTIONS CAN BE ASKED ABOUT RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER NEIGHBOURS.

    The appointment of these special envoys serves as another crucial channel to further deepen and broaden ties, particularly in the area of trade and investment as well as explore other opportunities for Malaysia. Their appointment has proven to complement rather than diminish the role of ambassadors or the ministry.

    NOW, TELL US THE TRUTH. DO THESE SPECIAL ENVOYS REPORT TO WISMA PUTRA ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING? I UNDERSTAND SPECIAL ENVOYS CONSIDER THEMSELVES “SPECIAL”, ALLOWING THEM TO BYPASS WISMA PUTRA.

    Malaysia continues to contribute meaningfully in other areas of international affairs, even in the post-Mahathir era. We remain active in multilateral diplomacy, helming the Non-Aligned Movement (2003-2006) and the OIC (2003-2008), providing leadership to these two important multilateral organisations to address the dynamics and challenges of the changing global environment.

    BE FRANK AND TELL US, WITH CONCRETE EXAMPLES, HOW THE NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT AND THE OIC HAVE BENEFITED MALAYSIA. AT LEAST, TELL US HOW, UNDER MALAYSIA’S LEADERSHIP, THE TWO MOVEMENTS HAVE BENEFITED THE WORLD.

    The Global Movement of Mode¬rates espoused by the Prime Minister in 2010 at the United Nations has received positive and constructive support from various leaders of other countries as well as in regional and international fora such as ASEAN, ASEM and the Commonwealth.

    THAT MALAYSIA HAS NOW SELF-APPOINTED ITSELF TO BE THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT OF THE MODERATES, TELL US HOW WISMA PUTRA IS GOING TO MAKE THIS ENDEAVOUR VIABLE AND BENEFIT MALAYSIA AND THE REST OF THE WORLD?

    On English language skills, as one of the most widely-used international languages, proficiency in it remains important to the ministry. It would be flawed to assert that by giving some space to the use of the National Language in the ministry, it would weaken English proficiency among officers.

    THE ISSUE IS NOT ABOUT GIVING SPACE TO THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE IN THE MINISTRY. THE QUESTION IS HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ARTICULATE YOURSELF PRECISELY AND CORRECTLY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS (THE ONLY LANGUAGE OF DIPLOMACY THAT MALAYSIANS CAN MODESTLY USE) WHEN ALL WISMA PUTRA REPORTS OF INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS, ALL RECORDS OF CONVERSATIONS, ALL MEMOS SEEKING INSTRUCTIONS AND ALL MEMOS GIVING INSTRUCTIONS ARE DONE IN THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE. WISMA PUTRA MUST ASK FOR A SPECIAL DISPENSATION TO ALLOW IT TO USE ENGLISH IN ALL ITS INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS.

    The ministry also encourages its officers to learn other major languages to promote multilingual skills.

    IF EVERY WISMA PUTRA OFFICER CAN MASTER THE USAGE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE THAT WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR MALAYSIA TO SURVIVE OR THRIVE IN THE WORLD OF DIPLOMACY. KNOWLEDGE OF OTHER INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES MAY GIVE YOU SOME EDGE, BUT IT IS NOT CRUCIAL.

    Wisma Putra remains sensitised to evolving developments and vigilant in the protection and promotion of our interests, defending our sovereignty and safeguarding our territorial integrity.

    AS A SMALL POWER, MALAYSIA HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO RELY ULTIMATELY ON INTERNATIONAL LAW TO DEFEND ITS SOVEREIGNTY AND SAFEGUARD ITS TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY. DOES WISMA PUTRA HAVE ANY SPECIALIST IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, PARTICULARLY THE LAW OF THE SEA? WHAT IS WISMA PUTRA DOING TO CREATE THIS NECESSARY POOL OF EXPERTS?

    With the Government determined to successfully implement the various transformation programmes including 1Malaysia, key performance indicators have been set to measure and improve the efficiency and quality of government services. With this mechanism in place, none of the ministries or other government agencies can afford to run on autopilot.

    KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS CANNOT BE SOLELY RELIED UPON TO DETERMINE WISMA PUTRA’S PERFORMANCE. WISMA PUTRA’S PRODUCTIVITY CANNOT BE EASILY MEASURED, PARTICULARLY IN DOLLARS AND CENTS. AS A RESULT, WISMA PUTRA’S MIGHT BE FORCED TO SPIN THE KPIS OF ITS PERSONNEL IN ORDER TO DEMONSTRATE PRODUCTIVITY AND GROWTH IN WISMA PUTRA ACTIVITIES, THUS RENDING THE RESULTS UNRELIABLE. WISMA PUTRA’S EFFECTIVENESS CAN ONLY BE DEMONSTRATED IN ONE WAY, THAT IS EFFECTIVE ARTICULATION AT THE INTERNATIONAL LEVEL (IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE) OF MALAYSIA’S FOREIGN POLICY OR NATIONAL POSITIONS OR ISSUES (AND IN GOOD MALAY AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL).

    If and when Ignatiuus is back in Malaysia, we would certainly welcome him to visit the ministry to share his wisdom while at the same time keep him abreast with the current developments in Wisma Putra and Malaysia.

    DON’T BE PERSONAL. THE GUY IS ONLY EXPRESSING HIS OPINIONS. THE LEAST YOU CAN SAY IS THAT YOU RESPECT THE RIGHT OF PEOPLE TO EXPRESS OTHER OPINIONS. OTHERWISE, ALL THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST WISMA PUTRA BEING DEFENSIVE AND IN DENIAL ALL THE TIME WILL SIMPLY BECOME SELF EVIDENT.

    THE KEY TO WISMA’S PUTRA’S FUTURE LIES IN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION, BOTH ORAL AND WRITTEN. YOUR REBUTTAL PROVES THAT WISMA PUTRA MUST NOW TAKE SOME DRASTIC ACTIONS TO ACHIEVE THIS ESSENTIAL SKILL.

    A FORMER AMBASSADOR OF MALAYSIA

  40. Scarlet pimp and dr. bean need to go visit Dr Mahadevan in his Maha Clinic in Bangsar. Dr Mahadevan is a qualified psychiatrist . Bean … pergilah jumpa doktor … untuk di rawati !

  41. I may speak in riddles, but do you think the Wise Men could and would understand this? I certainly hope so:

  42. “Mr Bean… refugee issue is a domestic policy.” Noor Farida

    Human rights are domestic too?

    I’m sorry Mdm Ambassador but I find that a rather lame response to a hot button issue affecting international relations. In the United States the issue of illegal immigration is a matter for the federal government (and not for the states within the federation) because it involves foreign nations and foreign nationals just as foreign policy is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. President.

    I hope you’re not telling me that the Minister of Home Affairs would be the one to sign the 1967 Protocol involving the status of refugees, aren’t you Mdm Ambassador.

  43. I lived in Ottawa for 15 yrs and interacted with Dennis on quite a few occassions. I found him a gentle and suave diplomat who was quite respected by his peers. Personally, I like his character and friendship. I think he served as our Ambassador there quite some time, 5 or 6 years. Probably the longest serving Ambassador in Canada.

    But professionally, I found that while he was passionate about his work, he was also equally if not more passionate on his other vocation. He was quite often travelling around the country, more on his new found faith than on professional duties. On some ocassions, when we chatted before I left for home, he reasoned that the Ministry’s tight financial means restricted his travel for his diplomatic duties. He also said that his years in Ottawa was the lowest point in bilateral relations with Canada citing not a single high level visits from both sides during those period.

    Nevertheless, he excellently connected with the Malaysians in Ottawa and Toronto though he admitted having some difficulty conversing in Malay with his constituents there.

    A truly great man.

  44. I think what the Mdm Ambassador is saying, is yeah, WP is subservient to the Home Minister. And we are all a herd of cows.., with nothing between our horns, buddy.

  45. All Malaysians need to do is to read the annual reports issued by various international agencies like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch in addition to the U.S. Department of State annual report on Malaysia to find where Malaysia stands in the international community of nations as far as human rights are concerned; and isn’t Malaysia a member of United Nations? Why hasn’t Malaysia signed the 1954 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees?

    Malaysian Chinese Muslim converts at birth but practicing Buddhists have fled to Australia seeking asylum and protection against religious persecution. RPK fled persecution (as opposed to prosecution) because of his political views and is qualified to seek asylum in the U.K. or any of the countries that are signatories to the 1954 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Gay Malays have surfaced in Canada to ask for protection against persecution for their sexual orientation. These are all matters of public record.

    In Malaysia it is not just about economic migrants looking for a better life than the one in their home country. Has not our treatment of Indonesian illegals in Malaysia affected our foreign relations with neigboring Indonesia? Human trafficking is a cross border issue and though it has domectic repercussions it is a matter for the Foreign Ministry.

    You’re telling me Mdm Ambassador that all these are matters concerning domestic relations within the exclusive jurisdiction of our Home Ministry or Ministry of Internal Affairs??

  46. The blog’s cross dresser ‘makcik’ has done well to disguise his digital footprints by changing his IP address and is now ‘contributing’ to this blog under another moniker. His ego apparently has been badly bruised by Din’s constant deletion of his comments.

  47. Bean,

    You are so out of touch from Malaysia. A lot of Malays think human rights are some “mumbo-jumbo” made by the westerners. You can talk about human rights all you want but how many will care? They’d rather subscribe to Dr M’s line of thinking that human rights were created as an excuse to invade Malaysia.

  48. what cheek!! Madame Ambassador called us, COMMENTATORS, cows? how dare you insult the cows! the cows live in condos and get soft loans from the umno govt. they don’t have to move a tit, they get food served from the best restaurant in Bungsar, thanks again to the umno government.

    yes, Madame Ambassador, before the malaysian army attacks Singapore they’ll ask permission from the Honourable Homely Minister because he is the cousin of the Primely Minister. okie dokie? the Primely Minister will ask permission from his Primely Wife. – All in the Family!

    sorry, I was only wondering at what you are trying to tell us.

  49. The article is mere media handling thats all folks.

    There is only one stand under this government and all Umno supporters echo this stand and that is, our foreign poilcy is this: “Don’t tell us what to do”.

    The biggest downfall is the state of mediocraty that M’sia is in and this permeates every aspect of government/society (through one reason or another).

  50. It is time Malaysia engages in ‘pisang’ diplomacy. What say you Dato? It is guaranteed to bear fruits.

  51. Dato Din,
    Why do you bother to allow stupid nonsenseical comment by “tune” above. Sounds like “tune” is completely uneducated and dont know what this discussion is all about!
    ____________
    Done.–Din Merican

  52. Letter to The Star from Former Malaysian Ambassador to the United Nations, Datuk Hamidon Ali (February 17, 2012

    I REFER to “Keeping abreast of changes” (The Star, Feb 15) concerning Wisma Putra’s response to columnist Dennis Ignatius’ commentary on the Foreign Ministry.

    As Ambassador, Permanent Representa­tive of Malaysia to the United Nations in New York at that time, I wish to clarify that I was the 64th President of the UN Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) for the year 2010, and that I (and therefore Malaysia) was Chairman of the Fifth Committee (Management and Budgetary) of the 62nd UN General Assembly (UNGA).

    This is just to be factually correct on the matter which was mentioned in the reply.

    DATUK HAMIDON ALI,

    Former Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations, New York.

  53. Dato’,

    You are saying Wisma Putra made factual mistakes on something they should know very well??? Shocking!

  54. Didi, the Ambassador to the UN did exactly that – He pointed out that that the fellow who wrote the reply couldn’t even get basic facts right ! And that’s from the undersecretary for INFORMATION and PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ! I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more silly mistakes in that reply. That’s what we get in a cut and paste job.

  55. Wisma Putra made factual mistakes on something they should know very well??? Shocking!- Didi,

    Didi,

    Didn’t I say earlier that these chaps in Wisma Putra suffer a mental disorder called OTAK MALAS. For some who had stayed too long in Wisma Putra, this disorder escalates to another level: Bodoh Sombong

  56. But professionally, I found that while he was passionate about his work, he was also equally if not more passionate on his other vocation. He was quite often travelling around the country, more on his new found faith than on professional duties.

    —————————–

    Bro.. Are you referring to his evangelical work all over Canada during that time when he was still Ambassador? No wonder relations with Canada was at its lowest! He was too busy propagating than conducting diplomacy… Sheesh!

    Omarudin
    ___________
    If you are the Wisma Putra Omarudin, then I am not disappointed. If you are not, you should try to understand the message, not attack the messenger, professionally speaking. I never thought that Wisma Putra is low down rotten, until I read this garbage from you.–Din Merican

  57. Din, i am the messenger here too you know! And you equate me with rotten garbage! Read the message dude! In this blog, you are the main messenger.. I won’t touch you tho!

  58. Omarudin, your follow-up side remarks about Dennis Ignatuus is uncalled for and is down right low down reflective of your gutter mentality. If you are part of the stinking mob in Wisma Putra who use their official capacities to smear the man because of his faith and then bring into question his role in representing the nation’s interest, then YOU are ,of course GARBAGE, if not, your mindset. Messenger? No, more of a garbage collector on a delivery truck!!!

  59. As a Malaysian, I agree that much can be done to improve the state of affairs in the MFA. However, I am disappointed to read that many who have made constructive criticisms have done so without revealing their identity. If they are genuinely concerned for the state of affairs at WP they should reveal their identity so that the present officers may engage them in meaningful discussion or solicit their advice when needed.

    To hide behind a pseudonym does not show courage or integrity.

  60. christine, the facts speak for themselves. It does not matter one bit whether someone used a pseudonym or not as long as the substance raised is of relevance and of concern to Wisma Putra.

    You take what is said on board if what was said is substantive to Wisma Putra, even if the subject matter was raised by someone residing In Tanjung Rambutan. You get it?

    It goes to show you have no damn clue how blogs operate.

    If those dumb mobs in WIsma Putra want more explanation or clarification from the people in here, or seek to defend their actions or non action, they can always come to this blog and ask or talk. We certainly want to hear what they got to say. Unless of course if they are hopelessly useless in knowing how to use the Internet. Or they are too scared to feel the heat in the kitchen.

    Your very request makes you as dumb and silly as these OTAK MALAS characters in Wisma Putra. You thought you have just made a brilliant suggestion, instead you made a fool of yourself. Silly.

  61. Though somewhat harsh, Frank is right. You just have to read to know that identity has not been central to reveal truth, injustice and crime. Remember Watergate’s Deep Throat? There are many others too who have valiantly sought to bring about changes though remaining hidden by pseudonyms. Furthermore you see how the rabid mobs tend to go for the messenger rather than trying to understand the message. Suffices for someone to reveal the identity and the entire discourse would turn into one big name-calling and vilification exercise.

  62. Though somewhat harsh, Frank is right- Observer

    Harsh? I thought I was quite polite in my response to a silly idea from this lady (I presume), “christine”. She is trying to be over-clever, I suppose , but in my mind, what she said was pretty dumb.

  63. in malaysia our opinions or even achievements will be assessed according to our skin colour first, to our religious adherence second and to our political affiliation third. our names gives away the three criteria.
    on top of that , we also worry about repercussions from all our super neutral civil institutions.

    Christine, Frank is right, I trust it was your youthful innocence that prompted you to write the above comment. accept this answer from us and we welcome you to discuss with us. in this way we can discuss without inhibition.

    by the way is’nt, Christine YOUR nom de plume?

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