One would expect a columnist with accolades of assignments and Harvard mentioned in his resume like Phar Kim Beng would have given a decent commentary to Dato Anifah Aman's response in Parliamant to Malaysia Baru's new Foreign Minister, Dato Saifuddin Abdullah.
Phar's reply to Anifah's calling of Saifuddin as not "well-versed" in South China Seas issue was to reduced it to as hackneved.
He then ridiculed the expertise of a former Director General of Maritime Department in the Foreign Minister, who was recently sent to France as Malaysia's new Ambassador, as Anifah's only expert on South China Sea.
Subsequently, he was throwing the names of few diplomats, which was not quite clear whether he was potraying Anifah as getting the wrong advise from the wrong people or Saifuddin seek advise from better diplomats.
Phar seemed to run down all the diplomats which advised both Anifah and Saifuddin. This technique in debate is hackneyed, meaning overused; unoriginal and trite. It is so DAPish to run down without giving a fair and honest assessment.
If the subject is about foreign policy, as Anifah's concern is clearly about (see video above), then there is no objectivity to talk of the electoral performance of Anifah, his brother, nephews or BN Sabah.
Firstly, it is not related - one is election and partisan politics, the other is governing policy i.e. foreign polict. Secondly, the voters may have not been objective in their voting decision as it was swayed by Warisan's money, sabotaged by characters from UMNO headquarter and also local UMNO party worker, and other non-issues.
For a renown columnist, Phar came off sounding childish to question Anifah's right to speak in Parliament. It is a free country now and more so for a member of Parliament to speak in Parliament.
This argument on locus standi is the one that is hackneyed or over-used. In fact, there is an attempt to do away with locus standi as legal argument to dismiss lawsuit and open the window for public issues to be brought to court.
Assuming the vexatious claim that Anifah relied on only one expert is true, it is not hackneyed to conclude Saifuddin is not well verse on South China Seas issue. He had just assumed the position and as one reliable source claimed Saifuddin confided he is absolutely blur and clueless on what to do at the Ministry.
Just do not ask who the source is?
Happen to know a buddy who is familiar with the 9-dash-line issue. Can assure Anifah had more than one expert advising him. He is quite well verse as he was handling and hands-on engaging diplomatically on the matter.
Phar is far from knowledgeable and had any glimpse of the background and character of those involved together with the behind the close door incidents on the South China Sea to comment on an issue so dear to a Sabahan like Anifah.
Phar may have a background in foreign policy but to highlight Saifuddin's effort to etablishment a Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Policy as achievement is an amateurish attempt to praise the boss of his friend who is Saifuddin's Political Secretary.
That is the major difference between foreign policy practitioner and foreign policy theoretician talking in classrooms.
Off course, it is practised in the US Senate with their renown Senate Committee on Foreign Policies. But to have one in Malaysia with members comprising of local politicians, it is impractical. Not even cabinet members and top government servants are familiar and far from conversant with foreign policies as it has always been the strict domain of Wisma Putera.
Inviting the opinion and empowering MPs with tendency to say, "Aku ni YB, atau kau yang YB?" to their constituency on such delicate matter of diplomacy and wide subject of geo-global politics will only extract shallow views and it spells disaster written all over.
A scene in the British comedy, Yes Prime Minister was of the Chief Secretary in a state of shock to hear the Prime Minister intend to have lunch on rotation with all the Ambassadors and High Consulate. He said the one lunch with the Ambassador can destroy years of diplomatic manovering. Having Malaysian MPs delve into a subject they hardly knows is destruction before food served.
Saifuddin has a lot to learn. He has to know what was happening in the past before he can bring something revolutionary to claim as his legacy. More important, he has to realise that prior to Anifah, Malaysia signed too few international treaties, convention and bilateral agreements. It was talk, even in those 22 years.
Phar pick on the wrong guy to insult as abysmal failure. For Saifuddin to only now get Phar to response to Anifah, it is rather one week late.