FT: Nothing special about this special envoy (Hadi Awang). Received via WhatsApp.

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Nothing special about this special envoy…

While the whole country is preoccupied with the Covid-19 pandemic, backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has sneaked in another political appointment – PAS President Hadi Awang was made special envoy for the Middle East, replete with ministerial rank. 

Make no mistake; the appointment is nothing but a political sinecure designed to reward Hadi for supporting the coup that brought Muhyiddin to power. It will provide Hadi with all the perks of a minister (and believe me, there are many) without having to do much to earn it. Not bad for someone whose only ambition is apparently to return to being a fisherman.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised given that it has become standard practice in Malaysia. BN appointed as special envoys a good number of politicians who had outlived their usefulness. Even the reformist Pakatan Harapan government did the same, appointing a DAP leader special envoy to China. Their cynicism is stunning; they all criticise such appointment while in opposition and then turn around and grab them once in power.

Special envoys are normally appointed for specific diplomatic missions. Ours are simply well-connected politicians looking for a free ride, unlimited travel and entertainment expenses and a diplomatic passport. It’s just a sheer waste of public funds. 

Our special envoys have rarely served any useful purpose. They bring very little to the table; more often than not, they simply undermine the work that Wisma Putra and our ambassadors do.

In Hadi’s case, one wonders how useful his appointment will be given that the Saudi government itself has reservations about his credentials. In 2017, Saudi Arabia and its three Gulf allies extended their so-called “terror list” to include the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) accusing them of “working to promote terrorism through the exploitation of Islamic discourse.”

Ironically, the Prime Minister’s office touted his membership (he was vice-president) in IUMS as one of the reasons why he was chosen as special envoy. So, now we have someone who is a member of a group which the Saudis deem a terrorist organization representing Malaysia as special envoy to the Middle East. The Saudis must, no doubt, be thrilled.

Who’s next? A former prime minister as special envoy to the Anti-Money Laundering Global Task Force? Or perhaps a certain fugitive preacher as special envoy to India? – Dennis Ignatious

After Sulking For A Month, Hadi Appointed As Special Envoy To The Middle East…

The appointment of Islamist party PAS President Hadi Awang as special envoy to the Middle East with ministerial rank has raised eyebrows. Does Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin plan to appoint UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as special envoy to Indonesia with the same ministerial rank too? After all, Zahid is a Java-immigrant so such appointment makes more sense.

People have been watching gleefully with popcorn and coke as to how long can Muhyiddin maintain a balancing act to ensure his backdoor government does not collapse before the Christmas. As former PM Mahathir says – “Muhyiddin is riding a tiger. If he gets off it, he would probably be eaten, so he has to continue riding it no matter how uncomfortable it is.”

From the moment Muhyiddin launched his coup to topple his own Pakatan Harapan government to form an almost 100% “Malay only” Perikatan Nasional backdoor government with UMNO and PAS, he has effectively plunged himself into a small pond filled with sharks. To stay alive, the Prime Minister has to keep feeding the PAS tigers and UMNO sharks to make them happy.

With the inclusion of Hadi Awang, the bloated 70 Ministries become even worse. But such irresponsible appointment by the prime minister at a time of financial difficulties also suggests that the PAS president had been sulking for the last 30 days because of his exclusion in the Cabinet. Yes, the 72-year-old Hadi was throwing tantrums for not appointed as Deputy Prime Minister.

Earlier, when asked about the possibility of him appointed as the deputy prime minister, Hadi said – “I am open … I do not say I have to be selected (as Cabinet member). If I do not get selected, I don’t mind going back to be a fisherman. No problem. I want to work for the country.” If he was an honourable man, he could have had openly rejected any position or minister from the beginning.

If you’re serious about not wanting any position or power, you don’t open up your options. To say so means you’re playing psychological games to hide your greed and lust and pretend to be “holier-than-thou”. Therefore, Hadi Awang was looking forward to be appointed as a Deputy Prime Minister, or at least as a senior minister, despite putting up a drama to say he won’t mind if fails to get it.

Now that the so-called holy man agrees to be appointed as special envoy to the Middle East, it lends credence that not only the PAS supremo was power-hungry, but also the Islamist party was “hypocrite”. Hey, before you whine, moan and bitch about racism and whatnot, it’s not me who says that. In fact, it was Muhyiddin Yassin who said that about a year ago.

In February 2019, before Muhyiddin turned traitor, he labelled the Islamist party PAS as “munafiq” and questioned whether the party was trustworthy. He said – “In religious terms, people will label them munafiq because what they do is different from what they preach.” He was referring to Hadi’s written promise not to support UMNO in the Semenyih by-election, but did precisely the opposite.

But it was not the first time that PAS has proven itself as one of the biggest hypocrites. In August 2018, the party condemned the decision by Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for appointing DAP’s chairman Tan Kok Wai as special envoy to China. The Islamist party had mocked the PH for criticising the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, only to promote political appointees themselves.

The PH, prior to their stunning victory in the May 2018 General Election, had slammed the BN government for appointing (former) MCA President Ong Ka Ting as special envoy to China and (former) MIC President Samy Vellu as special envoy to India. But now it appears PAS is shooting itself in the foot for doing the same thing that it had lectured PH not to do.

While the appointments of Ong Ka Ting, Samy Vellu and Tan Kok Wai as special envoys could be justified due to the ethnicity and cultural factors, can the same be said about Hadi Awang? Samy Vellu was appointed as special envoy to supposedly open up more opportunities for Malaysian businessmen to venture into infrastructure projects in India.

In the same breath, Ong Ka Ting and Tan Kok Wai were appointed to attract more investments from China as well as to promote and enhance economic cooperation between both nations. Do you think the Arabs, currently struggle with US$20+ of oil price, will be so impressed with Hadi Awang’s credentials that they would pour billions of dollars of investment into Malaysia?

Sure, PAS supporters argued that Hadi Awang holds a degree in Syariah from Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia, and a Master’s degree in political science from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University. The PAS president has also been named among 500 influential Muslims in the world under the preaching “dakwah” and spiritual leadership category by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies in 2016.

But there’s one huge problem. As “Special Envoy” to the Middle East, Mr. Hadi will be facing the de-facto leader – Saudi Arabia. In November 2017, Saudi Arabia together with its buddies (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt) declared the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) a “terrorist organisation”, accusing it of using Islamic rhetoric as a cover to facilitate terrorist activities.

Interestingly, Hadi Awang is one of the four vice-presidents of the banned IUMS terror group. The best part was his condemnations at Saudi and its allies in the Middle East. He had even accused the Saudi of admiring Zionist Jews more than the God, Islam and fellow Muslims. Of course, it didn’t cross his mind that one day he would become a special envoy to the Middle East.

To add salt into injury, the genius Hadi Awang told all and sundry that he would choose Qatar, Turkey and Iran over other Arab powers in the Middle East. His support for Iran, Saudi’s greatest rival in the battle for regional supremacy, was so obvious that even the IUMS was baffled by Hadi’s attendance and speech at a conference in Iran.

So, not only the influential Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the head of IUMS, had distanced his organisation from Hadi Awang’s extremism and support for Iran, the Saudi and its allies have also put Hadi on the “terrorist list” by virtue of him being one of the leaders of IUMS. Exactly how could he perform his job as special envoy to the Middle East when he’s seen as a “terrorist” by the Arabs?

To make matters worse, Hadi was a strong supporter of the KL Summit 2019, an event slammed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so much so that former PM Mahathir Mohamad had to take some time off to clarify that the gathering was not meant to create a new bloc to replace the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which Saudi is the de-facto leader.

At the same summit, the PAS leader opened his toxic mouth and arrogantly said the KL Summit 2019 was proof of OIC’s failure, clearly a slap in the face of Saudi Arabia. And now with tail between legs, the same man who had mocked the leader of the Middle East for its failure in championing the Muslims is going to act as a religious ambassador of the country.

That brings up another issue. Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said one of his priorities is to repair bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia. Would not there be overlapping of job functions between Foreign Minister Hishammuddin and Special Envoy Hadi?  More importantly, will the incompetent Hadi undermine Hishammuddin in fixing the relationship between both countries?

Between Hishammuddin and Hadi, the choice is obvious as to whom Saudi and its Arab buddies prefer to deal with, leaving the PAS president redundant – even useless. Heck, it would be a miracle if any Arab high ranking officials would waste their precious time talking to a terrorist like Hadi Awang. Like it or not, there’s no compelling reason to appoint him as special envoy.

The only reason for the appointment is to make him feel important, proud and happy so that the simpleton would not pull out of the backdoor government. The special envoy post comes with a government car (hopefully a Mercedes Benz), a driver, a posh office, a secretary, some staffs, and of course, a 5-figure monthly salary and allowances – all paid by taxpayers.

Hilariously, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the same PAS Deputy President who had criticised the previous government for appointing Tan Kok Wai as special envoy to China had just congratulated his own bossi on his appointment as special envoy to the Middle East, saying that the latest appointment was important to strengthen diplomatic ties. – FT

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