In international affairs, the nation needs competent leaders who are able to grasp issues based on facts rather than ideology, Ronald Benjamin writes.
Since the Perikatan Nasional government coalition under the leadership of Muhyiddin Yassin came to power through unethical means, he has been thorough in mollifying elites of all parties in the coalition with little or no interest in merit and competency.
Currently, there are already 70 cabinet posts compared to 55 under the previous Pakatan Harapan government – which is a burden on national coffers. Now there is an additional position of special envoy to the Middle East, which reveals an unwieldy inefficiency.
Muhyiddin choice of ministers is of great concern.
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For example, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, a religious ideologue, was appointed environmental minister, when he has no record of advocating environmental issues in the country. Will he able to speak eloquently with facts from science in an international conference on climate change? He was basically busy with ethno-religious politics for the past two years, trying to bring down the PH government with ethno-religious sentiments.
Now comes another Pas leader, Hadi Awang, who has been chosen as special envoy to the Middle East. Was he merely chosen due to his credentials as an Islamic leader of a political party or was it due to his competency as an envoy who understands the complexity of issues in relation to West Asia, where one has to deal with issues beyond sectarian religious ideology?
A knowledgeable envoy possesses an abiding interest in and passion for the art of diplomacy and international relations. It requires a broad knowledge of international politics and the economy. An envoy should also be able to demonstrate an analytical temperament.
Hadi’s political engagement has an ideological predisposition and rigidity that does not fit into the realm of international politics. His politics is more of expressing ethno-religious sentiments rather than showcasing a full command of the facts. Furthermore, he does not have a universal moral vision that is inclusive when dealing with issues of justice. Justice to Hadi is from an Islamic sectarian point of view.
So it defies reason for this ideologue to be chosen as an envoy. Malaysia should come up with a system where bipartisan parliamentarians – with competency and knowledge in foreign affairs – interview candidates nominated by the prime minister to see whether they qualify for ministerial responsibility.
Ministerial positions, if vacant, should be taken by the most qualified candidate. In international affairs, the nation needs competent leaders who are able to grasp issues based on facts rather than ideology.