What it takes to be a successful diplomat – Dato’ Ku Jaafar

By Rafiqi Yusoff

GOMBAK, 29 October 2021: Possessing a passion for the art of diplomacy and international relations, and demonstrating an analytical temperament, are deemed as the ideal qualities of a good diplomat, a webinar was told.

This view was shared by retired Malaysian Ambassador, Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari, who is now the Secretary-General of Developing Eight Organisation for Economic Cooperation, based in Turkey, during a talk titled “Experience of A Diplomat”.

Organised by the Secretariat of Political Science (POSSA), the talk was aimed to help impassioned students, mainly students of Political Science, to be cognisant of the fundamental characteristics required to be a successful diplomat. 

Dato’ Ku Jaafar, during his distinguished diplomatic career in the Foreign Service of Malaysia, had served as Ambassador to Egypt, Qatar and concurrently accredited to the State of Palestine. He also served as Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations in New York. 

Delivering the speech directly from his office located in Istanbul, he began the speech with a statement that “everybody is born into this world as a diplomat” to deduce that diplomacy is all about bargaining and negotiating in order to win the agreement that will keep the world at peace.

He said: “Diplomats are seen as important figures because they are the front liners who are solving the issues between the nation, state, and community.”

According to Dato’ Ku Jaafar, language is crucial in diplomacy as it is perceived as a charm to prevent war. Hence, diplomats are highly expected to know how to use the proper language and polite words in particular not to harm relations between nations or states. 

Some of the major roles played by distinguished diplomats include making friends with other embassies, reaching out to all kinds of people to fathom the political grounds and economic situation, dealing with conflicts and disagreements between states in ensuring the welfare of the public are taken care of and the sovereignty is protected.

Besides, Dato’ Ku Jaafar said that diplomats have a vital role to work with the media and a partnership with other local companies should be developed for the benefit of political stability and economic progress. 

“As diplomats, we have to stand out in the crowds and stand up for our sovereignty to make ourselves to be seen as important,” he further remarked. 

Dato’ Ku Jaafar also delineated that diplomacy is not an easy job as the diplomats have to be at the front line during the war and sacrifice themselves. He shared this based on his own experience during the war in Gaza in 2014, when he served as Ambassador to Palestine. 

As diplomats, they must be able to use their skills, talents, and their brains to assimilate all the procedural things. Other than that, they are expected to adjust and learn quickly to handle their work particularly in the context of protecting sovereignty.  

“Diplomats are not only assigned to attend cocktails or receptions, but rather delegated to be on the ground of real issues. Therefore, one has got to be multitasking to be able to deal with such issues,” Dato’ Ku Jaafar said.

Before the webinar ended, Dato’ Ku Jaafar advised that the diplomats need to be properly trained with physical abilities to go through hurdles that posed from time to time. He recalled the fundamental characteristics of a good diplomat which he repeatedly mentioned in his speech. 

Conducted by the Secretariat of Political Science (POSSA) in collaboration with Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences Students’ Society (IRKHSSS), the webinar was informative for students to gain insights on career in diplomacy. 

It was held live via Zoom Meeting and streamed on the Facebook page of IRKHS Students’ Society IIUM on Thursday (28 October) and attended by 60 participants.***

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