Putrajaya has put Indonesia in a “difficult position” by appointing Tajuddin Abdul Rahman as the ambassador to the republic, a former diplomat said.
Dennis Ignatius, who today doubled down on his criticism of Tajuddin, said no country would want the likes of the Pasir Salak MP as its ambassador, adding that the latter was “crude, rude and entirely lacking the kind of skills required”.
“But given the close relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia it would be difficult for Indonesia to say no,” he told FMT.
Ignatius, a 36-year veteran in the foreign service, felt that Indonesia, which is Malaysia’s most important bilateral partner, “deserves better”.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob defended Tajuddin’s appointment saying the latter was a “seasoned politician and experienced”.
Ismail also said the appointment was given the green light by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Ignatius went on to say he was not wedded to the idea that only career officials should be appointed ambassadors. But whether the appointee was a politician or a career official, he said, that person must be able to function well and carry out his or her responsibilities with a high degree of professionalism.
“Tajuddin does not meet these standards. It would be far better to have a career professional in that post.”
He also said, with the exception of a few, politicians who were appointed ambassadors “don’t usually perform or pull their weight”.
The officers under them ended up doing all the work, he said, adding that these politicians turned diplomats were rarely committed to the job.
“It becomes a holiday appointment at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Tajuddin’s appointment as ambassador has drawn brickbats from politicians and former diplomats, with the latest criticism coming from Ignatius who labelled it “shameful” and “scraping the bottom of the barrel”.