Friday, June 19, 2015

LONDON Diary part IV

Today I spent time remembering what I've written earlier. Unfortunately my samsung telephone is so sensitive before I could even post I touched the wrong button and the whole article got wiped out. 

I made my way to King Charles Street on the 10th day of June. It is a street where the British Foreign Office is located. It is close to St James Park and close to no.10, Downing Street the residence of the British Prime Minister. No 11 is the residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not far from there is the Westminter Abbey and the Westminister where the British House of Commons and House of Lords are located. As a student I visited these places as part of my fascination of British Colonial history. I was able to be at closer range when I was a Cabinet Minister of Malaysia for almost twenty years 1990 2009, almost 10 of which I served as a Foreign Minister under Mahathir Mohammad and Abdullah Badawi. These addresses are important landmarks of the corridor of power of Britain. 

I was a Member of Parliament for Kota Tinggi for five terms. I did a lot for this rural constituency. I remember when I took the seat from Tun Musa the area was without proper water supply electricity and telephone facilities. Now it has good roads and better road connectivity from village to village. I even manage to get a beautiful bridge connecting Tanjung Sedeli to Sedeli Besar. I got out at the right time. Currently politics have changed so much with the advance of technology and IT. The public are better informed and critical of the government of the day. There is so much debate on governance, transparency and accountability. For me these are laudable principles that should be strictly observed. The social media has become the primary media for dissemination of information. Does not matter whether it is true or otherwise. 

After so long I once again came to the same spot where I met the former Foreign Secretary of UK Robin Cook and his successor Jack Straw. The Foreign Office is in the same period building not affected by development. It was built in 1861 and completed 1868, designed by George Gilbert Scott. I still need to climb the stairs and the floor bares the same tiles . When I was brought up the officials told me this must be a familiar passage way. I just noted in agreement. The building is too low to fix a lift. Anyway the British are a class of their own in maintaining heritage. The obvious change is I have to go to the reception to get my visitors pass and my photograph taken. With my photo taken and placed on the pass I was allowed entry but the guard had to swipe his card to allow me entry. My remarks to the officials was the security is quite tight to enter the Foreign Office and the officials responded by saying nowadays you cannot take chances. We entered through a dark corridor before reaching a very comfortable room where all of us were seated. In a true stiff upper lip of the British civil servants we started discussing the subject of Burma. The meeting lasted for almost 45 minutes and then all of us departed to the main street. We went our own separate ways. 

I crossed the road and looked back at the foreign office and then stared at Westminister. During my time Malaysia was a great advocate that trade and economic matters should not be used as a tool for compliance of human rights, democracy and child labour. The west on the other hand were lecturing us that this must be seen together or else...we were advocating for constructive engagement....they were insisting on a policy of containment for non compliance with liberal democracy, free trade and market economy. Today the western democracy has become more tolerant as they focus their FP's on economics, trade and investments. Opportunities are in abundance in Asia. Issues of Human Rights, breaches of humanitarian law or even the not so perfect democracy or military government or military coup is quietly accepted . How times have changed. To cry or to applaud.

FB SHA@London@10 June 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment