Hadi Started on a Bad Note as Middle East Special Envoy

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The letter described PH as being controlled by communists, Christians and foreign powers, such as the United States, Europe and Zionists.

Abdul Hadi Awang’s new role as a diplomat started on a bad note as a letter he wrote to Muslim countries explaining the change of government in February has tarnished his image, said political analysts.

They told The Malaysian Insight a diplomat’s role is not to demonise Malaysia’s opposition and play up political rhetoric, but to build bridges between the government and foreign states.

Hadi’s letter, dated March 22 allegedly contained half-truths, was sent to countries in the Middle East and major Muslim groups justifying his party’s role in the bloodless coup in Putrajaya on February 24.

Hadi’s appointment letter as special envoy to the Middle East was dated March 22. Putrajaya announced his appointment on April 3.

The letter is awkward because it slanders Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders – Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim – two leaders who are well respected in the Middle East, the political analysts said.

They, however, said Malaysia’s relations with the Middle East are not expected to sour as it has a long-standing reputation among them as a modernised and moderate Muslim country, largely because of Dr Mahathir and Anwar.

“As a diplomat, Hadi has to build good relations between Malaysia and foreign governments,”   said political scientist Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

“He has to stop talking about local politics with foreign governments. He has to learn to put aside domestic politics and focus on building relations.

“His attacks against Anwar and PH harms his own image because Anwar is very well-known in the Middle East. It does not affect PH’s standing because foreign governments deal with whoever is in power,” said Mazlan of the Razak School of Informatics.

“If PH and Anwar come back to power, then foreign governments will accept them and deal with them.”

No one takes Hadi seriously

Hadi and his party, PAS, supported Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) peaceful overthrow of the PH government led by Dr Mahathir on February 24.

PAS supported PN and its leader, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, who was then appointed prime minister on March 1.

Hadi’s March 22 letter, which was originally in Arabic, was to explain why an Islamist party colluded with PN to bring down PH.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

The letter described PH as being controlled by communists, Christians and foreign powers, such as the United States, Europe and Zionists.

Hadi even accused PH of being controlled by freemasons.

The PAS president also called Anwar, who was due to succeed Dr Mahathir as prime minister this year, as a “pragmatic secularist”.

P Ramakrishnan of the Human Rights group Aliran said Hadi’s intention to “paint PH as an enemy of Islam” is an effort to absolve his own party’s role in the February coup.

“So far, neither Hadi nor his party has refuted the existence of such a letter,” said Ramakrishnan.

“Neither have they denied the contents of the letter – which had been quoted and condemned – in spite of attempts seeking confirmation on its authenticity. Both Hadi and PAS leaders have chosen to keep mum.

“If his strategy was to denounce PH falsely to win over support from the Muslim leaders for PN, it is bound to fail miserably.

“They know what had happened. They know the crooks who engineered the backdoor takeover of this government,” added Ramakrishnan, Aliran’s former president.

Another political scientist, James Chin, said Hadi is trying to project himself as a capable Muslim leader, on a par with Anwar and Dr Mahathir.

“In many parts of the Middle East, Hadi has to explain himself because Anwar and Dr Mahathir are very big brands,” said Chin, director of the Asia Institute of the University of Tasmania.

“It doesn’t matter if he looks good or not. He has to establish himself. But world leaders always get weird letters. So, no need to get excited over this.”

Another analyst, Oh Ei Sun, said the Middle Eastern countries are not likely to take Hadi too seriously.

“The envoy appointment is a consolation prize for not being included in the cabinet,” said Oh, a senior fellow of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

“So that the president of a major component party in the ruling coalition could at least be afforded some diplomatic courtesy in those countries where he is most likely to travel to, and nothing much more than that.

“The overwhelming majority of countries in the Middle East are actually very pragmatic, both ideologically and diplomatically, so not many powers there will take him too seriously.

“What matters more is Malaysia’s long-famed national prowess, for example, as a modernised, moderate country in stark comparison with quite a number of countries in the Middle East.” – TMI