The Truth Revealed

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MP Bukit Bendara Liew: Time for a New Malaysian Foreign Minister

by Athi Shankar | www.freemalaysiatoday.com

An opposition MP called on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to appoint a new man to take charge of the Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra), claiming incumbent Anifah Aman was inept.

DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP, Liew Chin Tong, said Najib should take advantage of the current Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s situation, to revamp his “tired and underperforming Cabinet.”“The Cabinet reshuffle must include a new Foreign Minister,” Liew said.

He said that the Foreign Ministry played a vital role in a government because a nation’s interests were often linked with its handling of relations with its neighbours and the rest of the world.

The leadership know-how that the ministry badly needed to propel the country into the international forefront was sadly lacking under Anifah, he said.He added that Malaysia’s reactive, not proactive, foreign policy made it an ineffective member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

He said that Wisma Putra was more focused on administrative issues and consular services than implementing policies to fulfil Putrajaya’s foreign policy goals. “Diplomatic visits, too, have been a mere formality without clear objectives,” said Liew, who is also the DAP international bureau secretary.

He said Anifah’s inept performance (showed in) forcing Putrajaya to opt for global strategic communications, managed by foreign firms and advisers, as the main foreign agenda.

‘Breach of ethics’

This was evident when the government paid public relation company Fact Based Communications (FBC) Media to make eight documentaries favouring Malaysia for the BBC. “It was a breach of ethics,” Liew said.

He accused Anifah of spending more time politicking in Kota Kinabalu or at his Kimanis parliamentary constituency, rather than being in foreign countries promoting constructive international relationships for Malaysia.

At the current parliamentary session, Liew has already prepared three questions for Anifah to clarify his role since being appointed Foreign Minister in 2009.These questions were submitted in the wake of claims made by former diplomat Dennis Ignatius in his column “Wisma Putra adrift in Foreign Affairs” in English daily, The Star on Feb 9.

Ignatius wrote that “Wisma Putra no longer has the capacity to provide sound strategic advice to the government”.Given Wisma Putra’s poor performance and Anifah’s lack of concrete direction and leadership on foreign policy, Liew said that it was time for Najib to appoint a new Foreign Minister.

“It’s embarrassing that only in Malaysia, the Tourism Minister, who is supposed to promote local tourism, has been spending more time overseas than the Foreign Minister,” he said.
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