Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Anwar ends a year of overseas trips on high note but …

This post is published here after it has appeared in scoop.my earlier today 19 Dec 2023 - Rockybru. 

Tokyo, 18 Dec: Every time he’s abroad for work, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will make time to. meet with the Malaysian diaspora.

Usually, this meet-and-greet with Malaysians living, working or studying abroad takes place at the hotel where he stays and involved hundreds of people, under the watch of the host country’s security detail. 

Usually, it’s over dinner. In the case of the 392 Malaysians in Japan who converged on the the Imperial Hotel yesterday (the furthest had traveled from Hiroshima, according to the organisers), it was high tea. 

Usually, the PM doesn’t really get to eat. Yesterday, stuck on the stage with the moderator, he asked on loud speakers if he could please have a cup of coffee. 

In New York (September), San Francisco (Oct) and Tokyo yesterday, three most recent assignments the Scoop had me cover, it was the same: he arrives, make a short speech, and stays on the stage till the end of the designated time answering questions from the floor. 

“I’ll answer the easy ones. The hard questions, you ask Tengku Zafrul and Tok Mat,” he told the Malaysian diaspora in Tokyo,  referring to the two accompanying Cabinet ministers. 

As the case was in New York and San Francisco, a primary concern of the Tokyo diaspora is the right to Malaysian citizenship for children of Malaysians married to foreigners. 

Another is, can they not be made to travel all the way to our Embassy in Tokyo just to renew their visas? It is a long journey …

In San Francisco, Anwar said he liked the idea of Malaysian students gaining some work experience after graduation by working in their host countries.

This will help them serve the country better when they do return. And if they somehow decide to stay back longer or not come back at all, “Just make sure you send a lot of money home.”

The Malaysian diaspora, of course, find Anwar’s views refreshing, even liberating. “Don’t be afraid to use race and religion .. to forge greater unity among ourselves.”

But some students - and their parents -  are finding out that things are easier said than done. Anwar may be supportive of our students gaining job experience abroad but the relevant authorities, such as MARA, which give out study loans and scholarships, may have other ideas.

“The PM says one thing but the relevant authorities say they have not received the memo from the PM. So nothing has changed,” said a frustrated dad. 

Anwar said the rights to Malaysian citizenship for diaspora babies will be taken up, presumably in Parliament, in the first quarter of 2024. 

Follow-through will determine that the diaspora’s issues and other gains made during Anwar’s trips are properly executed and realised. 

These include the international stature that the country has managed to regain as a result of Anwar’s “fiercely independent” but non-combating stand on Gaza, US-China’s ties, rules-based xxx, climate change and ASEAN. 

New Foreign Minister Mohamad Hassan has already gotten a taste of what’s in store. Since his appointment, he has not even had time to report for duty at Wisma Putra. “Straight to the deep end,” Tok Mat told reporters covering the Tokyo visit. 

And there’s the potential FDI that all those overseas trips have garnered. Keyword here is potential. 

“Tengku Zafrul banyak berjasa membawa pelaburan besar ke negara kita,” Anwar had told the Tokyo diaspora. 

That’s a fact. From all those overseas trips that he made in 2023, with and without the PM, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz got companies from Germany to Japan to commit to RM353.6 billion worth of potential investments (including Tokyo’s latest tally of RM6.6 billion, which are mostly for expansion).  

These are FDI that the Malaysian economy sorely needs. 

But if not realised, potential investments will amount to nothing. 

To make sure that those companies actually invest, all the infrastructure, resources, and ease of doing business that have been promised to them by Anwar, Zafrul and Tok Mat during all those trips must be realised and delivered. 

And everyone - ministry, department, chamber of commerce,  GLC, trade union, and right down to the media - must get the same memo. 


Rocky’s Bru is Datuk Ahirudin Attan, the Scoops’ blah blah blah. In Tokyo he discovers chimaki, a rice cake covered with sweet soy flour from the mountain region of Uonuma, probably the best desserts in the world after kueh lopes. 

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