Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Slippery slope ahead: Diplomats only to speak

"Force is all conquering, but it's victories is short-lived." - Abraham Lincoln
This quote reminded us of 2013 in the height of the kalimah Allah issue [read Bigdog on Archbiship Murphy Pakiam Christmas remark here].

There was a case in court that reached to the Federal Court for a decision on whether the Roman Catholic Church could use Allah in their Malay language publication for God. For Sabah and Sarawak, Malay language is used for church service. Just like in Indonesia, Allah was the term used for God.

The Muslim in Semananjong were suspicious as they see it as an insidious intention to convert Muslim which is deemed as unconstitutional to preach to Muslims.

The first envoy from Vatican City, Apostolic Nuncio Marino had infuriated Muslim NGOs like Perkasa and Jati in July. [read back Bigdogdotcom here and here]

Wisma Putera issued a statement to express displeasure to foreign interference but diplomats do not straight away condemn or criticise the other party. Subsequently, the envoy was called to Wisma Putera and he apologised for his ignorance. [Read Bigdog here].

Not many realised, the acknowledgement of the Vatican City envoy on the danger for being confrontational in a sensitive multi-religous society open the way for a peaceful resolution. Suddenly everything quiet down.

Such is the power of diplomacy. Another quote below:
“Be a craftsman in speech that thou mayest be strong, for the strength of one is the tongue, and speech is mightier than all fighting.” - Ptanhotep
He is not Pocahonta in another language but an ancient Egyptian civil administrator that lived around late 25 BC to early 24 BC.

In September 2015 last year, the Chinese Ambassador was misquoted by certain pro-opposition news portal that reported China will act should anything happen to Chinese. There were plans by Perhimpunan Merah to stage demonstration at Petaling Street.

Viral also were translated documents claiming China has a policy to protect Chinese abroad. However, all along Chinese is meant as China citizens. A blonde Russian living in the Chinese side of the border is also Chinese.

Dato Nazri Aziz must be well aware of the few issues of Chinese flexing their millitary muscle. Their navy encroached our water in the South China Sea. The 9 dash line border dispute (Bigdog has a long series of postings on this. Search Paracels) and construction of an artificial island on a reef in the Spratly Islands.  

Nazri criticised new Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dato Reezal Merican for making a statement that Wisma Putera will be calling on the Chinese Ambassador. He had the impression Reezal was trying to hog the limelight.

He may have known that Dato Hamzah Zainuddin was acting Minister in absence of Dato Anifah Aman. As to give face to the fresh new Deputy Minister, Anifah issued a statement in defense of Reezal.

Killing two birds with one stone, he also expressed disappointment for interference in the foreign affair by other Ministers. Note the diplomatic language to express disappointment instead of lambasting anyone and no names mentioned.

There is a lot on foreign policies, on-going negotiations, unwritten mutual understanding and diplomacy strategy not known to the public at large and even those in government. So comments by others on foreign affair can put the country in "a very slippery slope".
Maybe a little bit of humour could convey the importance of letting professional diplomat do their work. In the episode, "A victory for democrasy" in the classic British sitcom, Yes Prime Minister, it was mentioned twice:
James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business, aren't they?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, indeed, Prime Minister. That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.  

James Hacker: Foreign affairs are a complicated business.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: That's why we leave it to the Foreign Office.

One humouros part:

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century - politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon.

For more humour, watch the whole episode here.
In the latest episode, the incoming president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte gave a statement at a press conference in Davos City that his administration is making a fresh claim on Sabah and ministration recognises Sabah as Sulu sultanate territory that is being claimed by the Kiram clan. [Read on in MMO here].

Naturally, Sabahan will not agree. Speaking in the capacity as Chief Minister, Dato Musa Aman merely brushed it off as "irrelevant." Dato Najib asked Duterte to focus on more productive peace effort in Southern Phillipines. [Read FMT and The Diplomat].

The language used is not confrontational or insult. So did the one by PBS Pemuda Tanjung Batu Chief.

So to make a statement "Sabah is not to be his political football to be kicked around" is inappropriate. This is not political exchanges with DAP on alleged corruptions involving the purchase of a house of construction of highway or undersea tunnel.

Though it sounded to be more a personal opinion expressed on Twitter, a statement by a full Minister can be easily misconstrued as official government position.

Foreign affair expert, Dr Paridah Samad felt Duterte's statement is "a personal issue" so it is unnecessary to start a diplomatic row with Phillipines. It is better to allow the diplomatic channel to work their magic.

We need cooperation with Phillipines to deal with more pressing and priority matter of mutual benefit. Better to be friends with our neighbour in the light of heighten tension in the South China Sea. Furthermore, we need a peaceful sea lane for the new Look Easy Policy 2.0.


Anonymous said...

A diplomat thinks twice before he says nothing.

A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell and you actually look forward to the trip.


Anonymous said...

Malaysia joins US and Philippines in Sulu Sea exercise

You are right ... should not be jumpy over political remarks.

Cool la remy folly. Jgn over sangat nak cakap. Think harder...

Anonymous said...

Already talking in different tone ....

Duterte: Let’s just talk over Sabah claim

My Say