The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) condemns the appointment of Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman as Malaysia’s ambassador to Indonesia as an affront to both Parliament and the Pasar Salak electorate if he does not resign from Parliament before taking up his appointment in Jakarta.
That Tajuddin Abdul Rahman who joked about an LRT accident under his watch as Prasarana Chairperson is chosen as Ambassador over decorated career diplomats is also an affront to our diplomatic service.
Paid a monthly allowance of RM 16,000 before all other claims and allowances, MP should be treated as a main – if not fulltime – job. An MP must represent voters in parliament to debate on laws and policies on one hand and attend to voters’ need in the constituency on the other hand. How can one perform the role and duties as MP when taking up an Ambassador’s appointment which require one’s physical presence overseas?
In the US, where politicians are occasionally appointed as Ambassadors, they would have to first resign from their elected office.
This flawed practice of appointing sitting MPs as Ambassadors and Special Envoys however has been in place in Malaysia before 2018 and continued through the PH, PN and BN governments.
Notable recent examples include the late Rompin MP Jamaluddin Jarjis who doubled up as Ambassador to the US (2009-2012) and former Kulai MP Ong Ka Ting who doubled up as Special Envoy to China (2011-3) whose moonlighting job was succeeded by current Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai (2018-2020) and current Bintulu MP (2020-). Two other MPs are still taking a second pay as Special Envoy since 2020 despite staying at home most of the time: Marang MP Hadi Awang as Special Envoy to Middle East and Serian MP Richard Riot as Special Envoy to East Asia.
Alarmingly, another MP, Nazri Abdul Aziz, is rumoured to take up appointment as Ambassador to the US.
To end this flawed practice of turning Ambassadorial appointments as patronage, BERSIH makes the following demands:
- Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to immediately revoke Tajuddin’s appointment in Malaysia’s best interest and replace him with a career diplomat;
- the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on International Affairs to be given the power to scrutinise and endorse nominees for High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Special Envoy;
- Article 48(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution to be amended such that a sitting MP is prohibited from holding a permanent position in foreign mission;
- Tajuddin Abdul Rahman to immediately resign as MP for Pasir Salak, if his appointment is not revoked; (Unless the Article 48(6) of the Federal Constitution is amended and amendment enforced retrospectively, Tajuddin would be disqualified from recontesting in any parliamentary seat for the next 5 years.)
- Article 54(1) of the Federal Constitution to be amended to allow by-elections to be held for vacancy before the last six months – instead of the last two years – of a Parliament’s term; (This would ensure Tajuddin’s vacancy in Pasir Salak can be filled up unless Parliament is dissolved before the by-election takes place.)
- Parties to commit in their manifesto:
(a) Ambassadorial appointments would prioritize career diplomats and nominees would be scrutinised and endorsed by the PSSC on International Affairs;
(b) Amendment to Article 48(1)(c) to bar MPs from holding ambassadorial appointments; and,
(c) Amendment to Article 48(6) to allow by-election before the last six months of a Parliament’s term.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH