Malaysia upset over presence of Singapore envoys at rally

Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong (inset) says the three women went to Bersih in their personal capacities.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has expressed its displeasure to Singapore over the participation of three of its diplomats at the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.

Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong was summoned to Wisma Putra yesterday where he was told by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman that diplomats must be mindful of the sensitivities of the host country, and that the involvement of the three at the rally was inappropriate.

The minister explained that while it was a diplomatic mission's responsibility to monitor developments in the country and report to their respective governments, diplomats should not participate in illegal rallies like Bersih 3.0.

On Thursday, Ong had stated that three High Commission officials his deputy Ariel Tan and first secretaries (political) Regina Low and Philomena Aw went to the Bersih rally in their personal capacities and were not on any official assignment.

He denied that the officials had gone there to support the protesters who were demanding that free and fair elections be held.

Anifah, who had spoken out against the participation of diplomats at street demonstrations during a luncheon with Asean ambassadors here on June 11, said he had stressed to Ong that Wisma Putra would not hesitate to take stronger action against diplomats found to have stepped beyond the norms applicable under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 and Malaysian laws.

Meanwhile, a Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the diplomats were present at the Bersih 3.0 rally as impartial observers and performing "part of their normal professional diplomatic duties".

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