KUANTAN, Oct 12 — The Foreign Ministry will focus on empowering diplomats via its RM817.7 million allocation under Budget 2020 as announced by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday.
Its minister, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the allocation which was 3.7 per cent higher than the previous sum, would be utilised for the Diplomat Postgraduate Programme by providing financial assistance to officers to further their education.
He said the programme involved master’s and doctorate level courses on a part-time basis at selected local universities.
“The approach was taken so that our diplomats are skilled in diplomacy as well as being experts in the four fields we have identified.
“Fields like Chinese studies, Indian Studies, Middle East studies and Maritime studies are seen as important to our current needs,” he told reporters after opening a Diabetes Awareness Campaign at Dewan Indera Mahkota 2 here today.
Saifuddin who is also Indera Mahkota MP said Malaysia needed to delve into the political, economic and socio-cultural aspects of China and India as the two countries are now economic powers in Asia.
To realise these aspirations, Wisma Putra will be cooperating with the Public Service Department (PSD) apart from looking for universities strong in the desired courses.
Saifuddin said the large allocation is also for the ministry to bear the cost of operations abroad apart from expenditure to attend international conferences.
“The fund will also be used to improve information technology and communication at more than 100 Malaysian representative offices abroad apart from their upkeep and improvement.
“We cannot deny the important of the state-of-the-art ICT equipment in global communications which is getting more sophisticated,” he said.
Apart from that, Saifuddin said an allocation of RM85 million was also to ease congestion at the Johor Causeway to show Malaysia’s commitment to solve the problems at the check points to and from Singapore.
He said the congestion at the Johor Causeway is among nine issues being negotiated with Singapore and would be given priority as 300,000 Malaysians travel to and from the republic daily. — Bernama