KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin today said Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman's appointment as the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia was justified because of his position as chairperson of the Barisan Nasional Backbencher’s Club (BNBBC).
"Since he is the BNBBC chairperson, it is appropriate for the leader of the club of government supporters to be appointed to a post. To carry out his duties as BNBBC chairperson, he needs a position. It's not possible to do so otherwise as there is the matter of allocations and such," he told online portal Malaysiakini when asked to comment on the public backlash after the news of Tajuddin’s appointment broke.
Zahidi chastised those who criticised the appointment, saying that perhaps they would prefer it if Tajuddin was appointed as deputy prime minister or a minister.
Zahidi further said that it was unfair for regular BNBBC members to hold positions in government-linked corporations while their chairperson held none.
Tajuddin was chairperson of the government-owned public transport company Prasarana, but he was sacked last year because of the jokes he made at a press conference discussing the disastrous KLCC light rail transit (LRT) crash.
According to previous reports by Malaysiakini, sources had told the online news portal that Tajuddin was given the appointment as a reward for his loyalty to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob last year during the scramble to fill the prime minister's position. Even prior to the LRT crash press conference, the Pasir Salak MP had maintained a reputation for being brash and uncouth.
The appointment has been criticised by former diplomats and the general Malaysian public. An online petition was started by a group calling themselves Bangsa Malaysia to reject the appointment and has gathered over 20,000 signatures so far.