Ex-diplomats plan protest letter over PM’s UAE fiasco

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A group of former ambassadors is planning to write a letter of protest to Wisma Putra following a fiasco involving the prime minister’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) late last month.

Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, who once served as an ambassador to the Netherlands, told FMT that many of her former colleagues were “outraged” at the manner in which the matter was handled.

They were particularly dismayed with the recall of the ambassador, Tarid Sufian, and consul-general Hasril Abdul Hamid from their posts.

Noor Farida, who is part of the G25 group of former civil servants, claims the current batch of officers, with whom she is in contact, is disappointed and disheartened by this turn of events.

Yusof Mat Isa

“We are all outraged that the foreign minister is not defending his own turf,” she said, referring to Saifuddin Abdullah.

She said that based on text messages she exchanged with her former colleagues in Wisma Putra, the anger was mostly aimed at the minister and “non-performing officers” at the Prime Minister’s Office.

She also said that many of her former colleagues know Tarid personally.

“They all say that he is a competent diplomatic officer who should not have been treated in such a shabby manner, especially when the debacle was not his fault.”

On Sunday, FMT reported that foreign ministry officials were believed to be fuming after the duo were ordered home and put in cold storage for the lack of official “guest status” for Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s visit to the UAE last month.

Sources told FMT that Tarid and Hasril were the only senior officers present at the airport to receive Ismail when he landed in Dubai.

There were no top UAE officials present, unlike the usual protocol which will see a senior minister of the host country being officially assigned to receive foreign dignitaries.

One source said the ambassador had told Wisma Putra about the UAE government’s reservations on the timing of Ismail’s visit in view of the hundreds of VIPs coming from all over the world daily for the Dubai World Expo 2021. Apparently, this fell on deaf ears.

Wisma Putra, in confirming that the duo had been recalled from the post, blamed them for failing to make proper arrangements for Ismail’s visit, which saw the latter undergo a long wait for passport and immigration clearance at the airport.

Ismail was also not provided security coverage or a motorcade as was the standard procedure.

Noor Farida said if she was Saifuddin, she would lodge a strong protest to the prime minister at the weekly Cabinet meeting over “the way that our ambassador to the UAE was treated”.

“People have been whacking him on Twitter, including yours truly. He deserves it!” – FMT