Middle East affairs already in good hands

Middle East

THE appointment of a special envoy to the Middle East, which carries a full ministerial status is obviously not because of the appointee’s acumen in international diplomatic relations.

The situation in the Middle East does not warrant a special envoy. The volatile situation in the region has been going on for years – factors include the Syrian conflict, American presence in Iraq, tensions between Iran and the US as well as other Arab states, the war in Yemen. And now the Covid-19 pandemic.

One could ask, what is the purpose and responsibilities of this special envoy? The designated ambassadors in the respective countries are professionally equipped to handle the situation in the best interests of Malaysian diplomacy. The foreign minister is charged with the responsibility of handling foreign relations through designated ambassadors. Appointing Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to such a position would in a way infringe on the foreign minister’s portfolio.

There is already a Middle Eastern Desk as there are the European Desk, Asean Desk and North American Desk in Wisma Putra helmed by professional diplomatic officers.

With respect to the man, Hadi’s forte is not in the international arena dealing with complex matters of international relations and diplomacy. He is more of a local politician grounded in the calisthenics of PAS politics.

Despite Datuk Takyiyuddin Hassan’s, PAS secretary-general and minister in the Prime Minister Department, assertion that Hadi’s appointment is not politically motivated, it is as clear that it is a reward for political affiliation, notwithstanding the redundancy of the position or the financial implications at the taxpayer’s expense.

The administration needs to review its appointment strategy and base it on needs rather than political expediency. As it is the Cabinet is already bloated and putting a strain on taxpayers money.

In this time of dire straits, we need to exercise a keen sense of critical and intellectual acumen to garner the capacity and capability of the ministers and deputy ministers to address our health and economic woes.

As it stands, it is the civil servants who are delivering and addressing these matters professionally. Without them, the Cabinet of ministers and deputy ministers would collapse.

Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin

Centre for Policy Research and International Studies

Universiti Sains Malaysia

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