Malaysia in Cuba
I have had no desire to get in touch with Malaysian Embassy in the past but with my increasing connection to Malaysia, on a whim, I decided to call the embassy offices this morning.
A sweet voice answered, after the usual recorded message. I was surprised at the youthful exuberance of her voice. How is one to explain the motive for this call.
The motive for this call was the involvement of Carlos Amores. Cuban Ambassador in Malaysia in promoting Cuba; the desire of my friend MunChing to assist Cuba in any fashion in her land and my desire to know the students who are here to study Medicine from Malaysia.
As is normal in such a case, she took some details about me and transmitted to either the ambassador or the person in charge of making appointments for the ambassador. I explained that I am an Australian, born in Malacca and that I am involved deeply in Cuba in matters of Health and Anthropology. I am also a friend of Carlos in KL and that I would like to know more about the Cuba Malaysia friendship. Carlos had recently formed a Malaysian Cuba Friendship society and it would be nice to have a reciprocal sentiment from San Cristobal de la Habana.
Her name is Lizbet and she studied English at the Abraham Lincoln Institute which is on the street where I live in Vedado. I was not expecting to meet the ambassador, perhaps on a future visit, this being Friday and the last day of this stay in Cuba.
We had a nice chat, and I thought it would be good to keep in touch with Lizbet since I had an intuitive feeling that I would be more involved with causes of Malaysia in Cuba, even though the nature of which was not clear to me. I gave her my email and told her to write to me. As we said good bye, she asked me for the telephone number in Havana. Within an hour or two, she called to say the Ambassador will see me at 4 pm today at their embassy in Miramar. I thought to myself, what a privilege!
LOCALS now can enjoy a „taste of Cuba with the launch of Friends of Cuba Association Malaysia.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, who was in Kuala Lumpur to call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said the association was „well-deserved by Cuba.
„I believe the setting up of the association will contribute to the strengthening of bonds between Malaysians and Cubans
„Cuba places a very high priority in its relations with Malaysia and I am sure that all of this is for the better.
„We deeply rejoice over the achievements of Malaysia and admire your leadership which is in favour of a more democratic world,‚‚ he added.
The other special guest as the launch was Malacca Governor Tun Mohd Khalil Yaacob.
Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia Carlos A. Amores said a membership drive was under way to strengthen the association.
„All those who are our friends, please come together and make our historic friendship stronger.
„Friends of Cuba has already been registered, the pro-tem committee has had a meeting and we are calling upon all our friends to sign up,‚‚ he said at a special presentation of the committee at the La Bomba Latin Restaurant at Starhill Gallery, Bukit Bintang recently.
Amores said Cuba and Malaysia had enjoyed 35 years of diplomatic relations with their leaders travelling in both directions many times.
„All these years, we have built up a close friendship. We are today allies in the Non-Aligned Movement and in the defence of the principles of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations. Malaysia and Cuba support each other in the international fora and share common views in most issues of the international agenda,‚‚ he added.
Pro-tem committee president Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, said the launch of the association would enhance bilateral cooperation.
„It will be a platform to foster closer people-to-people ties.
It wouldn‚t surprise me if we came up with a few great ideas to share with the rest of the world,‚‚ he said in his speech.
The other office bearers of the association are Datuk Dr Halim Hamat (vice-president), Nazrin Abdul Wahab (treasurer) and Sharon Faung (secretary), with Prof Tan Sri Dzukifli Abdul Razak, Muthanna Abdullah, Naresh Mohan, Johan Indot, Hazmat Khan, Lim Wei Ling and Herbert Wong as committee members.
The event was also attended by diplomatic heads of mission and personalities from the private sector.
this was a news item in the local Malaysian newspaper published in KL
I had gone to the embassy of Malaysia with great expectations but I remembered what MunChing had once said about the people who represent Malaysia, they are truly not interested in other people.
After comparing the Cuban Embasy in KL and its warm welcome and the Malaysian Embassy in Havana with its frigid reception, I can say this:
The Malaysians and perhaps Asians in general are interested in what Others can do for them, and they are friendly if they can use you in some fashion, there is no genuine interest in the person or the ideas. I didn't particularly want to meet the ambassador, it would have been all right, but I got the telephone call to say the ambassador wanted to see me. And then at the reception I was met by the Third Secretary of the Embasy, a Kampung Malay with obviously little education with a heavy accent with street English, this one and that one, that sort of English talk. He himself said to me: you seem to know so much more Malaysia! They were not really interested in what I had to say. The ambassador, an elderly Chinese with his teenage daughter, rather plump was there, but saw fit to send this Malay representative, a poor example to show off Malaysia to the world. He had genuinely no interest in Cuban Malaysian friendship. After about twenty minutes, I left, disappointed with the only interaction which was not full of energy and enthusiasm during this week in Cuba, the only interaction with a foreigners. Avoid Foreigners in Cuba if possible and especially the Embassy types.
Compare it to the reception at the Cuban Embassy in KL. I am technically more Malaysian than Cuban as my attachment to Cuba is emotional and my attachment to Malaysia, apart from my recent affections are based on being born there.
I have come to the conclusion which I have many times before
Cubans are interested in what they can do for others, Asians and Malaysians are interested in what others can do for them. There are exceptions of course. Cubans who are not generous are not my friends and the Malaysians who are generous are my friends, the best example of which is MunChing.
This is the first time I have made an attempt to go to a foreign embassy in Havana for more than a visa and the disappointment would reinforce my desire to avoid them like a plague, especially the representatives of Asian Countries. This is what I saw when I saw the flag of Cambodia fluttering at the corner opposite when I left the gates of the Malaysian Embassy.