How do we distinguish personal and professional duties in diplomatic ties?
KUALA LUMPUR: Despite explanations by the Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong that the involvement of its three officers during Bersih 3.0 rally were personal and not in their official capacity, a blog post at Lenggong Valley described it as shallow and illogical.
“In diplomatic ties, it is hard to distinguish diplomatic tasks or personal tasks such as the involvement in Bersih 3.0,” the post read.
The post pointed out that under the Vienna Convention, it is not clearly stated whether diplomats should be participating in a rally within personal capacity or not.
Ong reportedly said three of his officers Ariel Tan and first secretaries (political) Regina Low and Philomena Aw were free to attend the rally which took place during a weekend.
Today Online reported the Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement saying its officers were at the Bersih 3.0 rally as "impartial observers" as "part of their normal professional diplomatic duties".
The ministry also denied assertion that Singapore contravened the Vienna Convention. Under Article 41(1) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, all persons enjoying privileges and immunities must respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State
Meanwhile a Singaporean blogger stated the Singaporean government should not interfere with the domestic affairs of other nations.
The blogger identified only as Barrie wrote: “The issue we have at hand now is that Malaysia has made claims that three Singapore diplomats were present at Malaysia's political rally, Bersih. To them, that is tantamount to interference from Singapore.”
“I do not believe that our government should interfere with the domestic affairs of other nations. That is being consistent to say the least.”
Barrie questioned the explanation that the three diplomats were there to observe, as one did not have to be in the rally to know what is happening.
“The presence of the Singaporean diplomats in the rally itself has political implications,” the blogger wrote.
“For sure, if the roles are reversed, eg if some foreign diplomats were to be present at some opposition rally in Singapore, PAP's Foreign Ministry would be talking in reverse mode too.”
Another blog post stated it is really a wonder that Singapore diplomatic staffs dared to take part in demonstration outside Singapore.
“Will they dare to do the same in Singapore? Why is there a double standard inside and outside Singapore?” the blogger known only as Pijitailai wrote.