Let’s have more suave and intrepid diplomats
TAN SRI Hasmy Agam, the executive chairman of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), has done a great service to Malaysia by exposing the country’s “state secret” – that our government officials especially diplomats are often rendered tongue-tied and speechless when they come face to face with foreigners. They probably break into cold sweat when hailed by their foreign counterparts at an investment or security seminar or even at a cocktail reception or informal dinner.
I am not at all surprised because my best man graduated from University of Malaya in 1973 or 1974 in International Relations and was hoping to be a diplomat. He was never selected to be one and he had retired from government service 5 years ago.
My daughter is a graduate of Politics and International Relations from a UK university and she chose Spanish rather than French as an extra language because there are more Spanish speaking countries. She even spent one summer in Mexico to learn the language instead of Spain which is nearer UK. Before this, she spent one year attending high school in Japan and passed Level 2 in Japanese if I remember correctly. Now, in Holland she is learning Dutch as well.
For a Malaysian, her exposure should be a good background for a diplomat, not that she is looking for a job as one. Just imagine her contacts and networking in various countries which should be invaluable to any of our embassy abroad, and especially where she had been before.
The point to note is this: in Europe, there is no shortage of people with knowledge of different languages, but can we say that of Malaysia? Having read the editorial in The Sun, I believe there were no improvement since the days of my best friend way back in the 70s!