KOTA KINABALU, Oct 27 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is the only Malaysian prime minister to take tangible steps to formalise ties with Vatican City, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said today when revealing the affectation of Najib’s predecessors.
The soon-to-be Malaysian ambassador to the Holy See said that while Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi both discussed a formal diplomatic relationship with Vatican City, neither moved to see this come to pass.
“It was only when Datuk Seri Najib became the prime minister and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman the foreign minister that the matter was taken up seriously and agreed upon by the federal Cabinet,” said Dompok in a statement.
The Sabahan leader today said he was privileged to have been part of the discussions between the Malaysian government and the Apostolic Delegate of the Vatican to Malaysia, among others.
“I feel therefore humbled to be given the honour to be the first resident ambassador of Malaysia to the Holy See and also as ambassador to Malta and Albania.”
Anifah, in announcing Dompok’s appointment as Malaysian ambassador to the Vatican as well as the Malta and Albania beginning January next year, said the latter was well suited for the post given his previous visits to the Vatican and having met previous Popes.
Dompok was Sabah chief minister from 1998 to 1999, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in 2004, and minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities in 2009.
He quit politics after he lost the Penampang parliamentary seat in the 2013 general election to PKR’s Darell Leiking. He was UPKO president from 1994 to 2014.
Malaysia formalised ties with Vatican City in 2011, following an official visit by Najib who had met the Pope then, Benedict XVI.