KOTA KINABALU: Former federal minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok is in line to be Malaysiaâ€™s first ever ambassador to the Vatican.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the Prime Minister has agreed for Dompok to be the ambassadorial candidate to the Vatican and Dompok is expected him to begin his duties as early as January next year, after the necessary paper work is completed, including approval from the Vatican authorities.
He said Dompok, a former Sabah chief minister and also Upko president, would be based in Rome but would also be ambassador for Malta and Albania once his appointment was finalised.
â€œWe feel that he is the right choice in many aspects. He has also been on official visits to the Vatican with Malaysian delegation.
â€œHe has also met several previous Popes during his visits,â€™â€™ Anifah told reporters after meeting his visiting Czech Republic counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek here Monday.
Malaysia formalised relations with the Vatican in 2011 after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s visit to the Vatican that year to promote Putrajayaâ€™s push for world peace and harmony.
Dompok, who quit politics in 2013 after he lost the Penampang parliamentary seat in the 2013, was a member of Najibâ€™s group that met Pope Benedict XVI. He had also followed former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2002.