Nazri as ambassador to US: A policy reversal?

DESPITE denying rumours last June, former UMNO supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz has been appointed as Malaysia’s ambassador to the US.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong presented a letter of credence to Nazri and nine other heads of diplomatic missions today in Istana Negara.

He is the only politician out of several newly appointed heads of diplomatic missions abroad announced by Wisma Putra today (Feb 9).

The decision to give Nazri the post is also seen as a reversal of the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s pledge to appoint only diplomats to represent the country’s foreign missions abroad.

Other new ambassadors presented with letters of credence were: former ambassador to the UAE Datuk Syed Md Hasrin Tengku Hussin (Indonesia); former Malaysian ambassador to Italy Datuk Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino Anthony (Philippines); former ambassador to Uzbekistan Hendy Assan (Vatican City); former consul-general in Australia Hafizah Abdullah (Sweden); former high commissioner to Nigeria Gloria Corina Peter Tiwet (Brazil); as well as diplomats Ruzaimi Mohamad (Kenya), Suzilah Mohd Sidek (Czech Republic), Amarjit Singh Sarjit Singh (Timor-Leste) and Alauddin Mohd Nor (Kuwait).

Nazri graduated from Lincoln’s Inn in the UK and has vast experience serving in previous cabinets, according to the ministry.

After serving six terms in Parliament, Nazri also announced in 2021 that he would not run in the 15th General Election (GE15).

Nazri was first elected as the Chenderoh MP in 1995. He held onto that position through the 1999 election. Later, he decided to run for the newly-formed Padang Rengas constituency, which he won in four straight elections.

Prior to that, he was appointed to the Dewan Negara in 1990.

Nazri has also previously served as a tourism and culture minister, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs, and entrepreneur development minister.

The Government has made it a practice to appoint senior or retired politicians as special envoys or ambassadors, and some of them have received the same benefits as federal ministers.

In 2011, the late former MIC president Tun Samy Vellu was appointed as a special envoy to India and South Asia, and former MCA president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting was appointed as a special envoy to China.

In August 2018, DAP Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai was chosen to serve as a special representative to China.

During the Perikatan Nasional administration, special envoys included Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang (Middle East), Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (China), Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem (Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) and Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran (India and South Asia). – Feb 9, 2023

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