Tajuddin Abdul Rahman may be a seasoned politician but that does not make him a good ambassador to Indonesia, former diplomat Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin said.
In an interview with BFM this morning, the former ambassador to Netherlands said Tajuddin lacks the propriety and decorum required of an envoy.
“The prime minister (Ismail Sabri Yaakob) has tried to defend his choice in Tajuddin, saying that he is a seasoned politician.
“(But) A seasoned politician doesn’t make a seasoned envoy,” Farida said.
When asked what could have prompted Tajuddin’s appointment, given his notoriety, Farida said it could be Ismail’s precarious position.
“There is a lot of speculation on social media. A lot of people are saying that he needs his (Tajuddin’s) support.
“The PM is in a precarious position, isn’t he? Many people see him as a lame duck and he needs support going into the general election.”
Yesterday, Ismail defended his choice of ambassador, saying Tajuddin was a veteran politician who should be given a chance to do his job.
Tajuddin, who is the Pasir Salak MP, said his appointment as ambassador to Indonesia had the approval of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Tajuddin replaces Zainal Abidin Bakar, a career diplomat who has been an ambassador since 2018.
The 74-year-old lawmaker is a controversial figure He was previously fired as head of the government’s public transport operator Prasarana for his insensitive remarks after Kuala Lumpur LRT collision that injured hundreds of passengers.
He was also fined for breaching Covid-19 rules when he appeared wearing a face shield without a mask during a press conference following the crash.
About a month later, he was fined again for breaching Covid-19 protocol by not wearing a mask in Parliament.
In May last year, he was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to assist in a probe into allegations of abuse of power in giving a friend a job in Prasarana.
In July, he was fired as Umno’s election director after an audio file of him criticising party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was leaked on social media.
Farida, who is the spokesman for G25, said a career diplomat who has been trained for the job should have been selected instead.
“Normally you send experienced, career diplomats, especially to important countries like Indonesia; they are trained to do their jobs.
“They must have 10 to 20 years’ experience before they are sent out as heads of missions,” she said.
Farida said when the foreign service and Wisma Putra should be consulted on the appointment of envoys.
However, she said there is no need for parliament to get involved.
While she acknowledged that it was not wrong to for politicians to assume ambassadorial roles, the candidate has to be right for the job.
Given Tajuddin’s past conduct, Farida said his appointment as an envoy of Malaysia is a disaster.
“It is a disaster because Tajuddin is notorious, isn’t he, for his lack of propriety, especially for his conduct in the Dewan Rakyat?” she said.
“He and his son were involved in a fracas when they attacked Khalid Samad in the Parliament compound, Tajuddin had rudely referred to Teresa Kok as the ‘only Kok in the house’.
“He even tried to silence Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, telling him to ‘budak kecil, diam’ (be quiet, little boy).
“Is this appropriate behaviour for an MP, let alone an ambassador?” – TMI