Why choose controversial Tajuddin, Umno leader asks PM

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An Umno leader has criticised the appointment of Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman to the position of ambassador to Indonesia, saying Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should have chosen a less controversial figure.

The leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told FMT he could understand the prime minister’s need to pick a party colleague he could trust, but said Tajuddin was not noted for any extraordinary ability.

In fact, he said, his abilities were questionable, as shown in his handling of a collision involving two LRT trains last year as the Prasarana chairman.

“And why does the prime minister need to appoint a sitting MP when MPs are supposed to serve their constituents?”

He said Tajuddin’s “uncouth behaviour” in the Dewan Rakyat also made him unfit for a diplomat’s job.

However, he also said the appointment did not mean that Umno had gone back to its old ways of giving perks and top positions in government to the politically connected.

“Umno is staying on track for political reform,” he said. “We support the anti-hopping law, given equal constituency development funds in Perak, amended our party’s constitution and fielded more younger candidates in the last two state elections.”

On Wednesday, Ismail defended Tajuddin’s appointment, saying Putrajaya “cannot satisfy everybody”.

He also said Tajuddin was a seasoned politician and that his appointment had been approved by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Political analyst Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said Umno seemed to be distancing itself from Tajuddin, adding that the party could not be blamed for his appointment.

He told FMT he noticed that Umno had not been in support of Tajuddin on “any political matter”, especially after the LRT debacle.

“I see that Umno is also distancing itself from his ambassadorial appointment,” he said.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said the practice of appointing political figures as diplomats was flawed but had been going on for years, even when Pakatan Harapan was in power.

“Umno parliamentarians will not criticise this practice even if they think Tajuddin is not qualified as they, too, would want such golden handshakes on their way out,” he said. – FMT