Monday, April 17, 2017

FBSHApost@17 April 2017: Malaysia's foreign policy and national interests

My foreign ministry days of over nine years have so many interesting anecdotes and challenges from day one on the first week of January of 1999 when I took over the position from Abdullah Badawi who was appointed the DPM. 

It began with a farewell dinner for Abdullah coupled with a welcoming event for me. At the beginning, Pak Lah -as he is fondly called or known, made it clear that the Ministry under me would be differently managed. He even went on to say that I've short fuse. I didn't know what he meant or should I take it as a compliment or was it a warning to Wisma officials not to take things for granted or take it business as usual. 

Albeit my response was sublimed as I was trying to understand what was expected of me by the boss. Frankly I didn't know how I should manage this Ministry after having heard so many negative indicators form various outside sources. I served almost a complete five year term as a Defense Minister. Both of these Ministries function under different dynamics and environment. One is preparing for war even though there is never going to be a war or conflict. 

Its profile is to prevent other countries from having any idea to attack Malaysia. In the Foreign Ministry, my role would be as a front liner in the defense of Malaysia's National Interest through diplomacy or engagements at the bilateral and multilateral levels. 

We were busy at ASEAN, OIC, G77, G 15, NAM and of course due to our assertive foreign policy at the UN and its various agencies. Malaysia was always there at the front line, championing the course of small developing countries, Islamic countries and South South interests against the domination of the northern countries. 

The objective then was to create a more balanced international order and system that practice fairness and justice and fighting against double standards and selectively. We are a small nation but our voice was heard, loud and clear.

(To be continued).

FBSHApost@17 April 2017

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