Thursday, January 20, 2011


It was reported that the Saudi Arabia king in 2009, gave US President Obama, the First Lady and daughter gifts worth US190,000. The gifts given to the First Lady itself in the form of jewelries and other valuable and exotic gifts was US132,000 and I suppose the remaining was for the US President and the daughter.

In the US, there is such a law that governs the ownership of some gifts given to the US President and their family members that has to be handed over to the government, and to be kept at the National Achieves. I have no idea what ‘some of the gifts’ here means, and I suppose gifts given to the US President and his family by visiting heads of states, or during the US President’s official state visit overseas is deemed as having to give it to the state, and the President merely acting as a representative of the nation. In other words, the gifts are not given to Obama and his family as individuals; rather as a representative of the nation they represent. This is quite logical because the post of the US President is ‘given’ to Obama by the people, and that post is merely for a maximum of terms.

I do not know whether such a law or a policy exist in Malaysia. We have a King and a Queen. We also have a Prime Minister and a First Lady (so they say). We have many Ministers and Deputy Ministers. We have top civil servants, military and police. All such people goes abroad on visits (by invitation or otherwise) and surely they are given gifts, though not the likes of what the Saudi Arabia king gave to President Obama and his family. But these are gifts, and are they personal gifts or one that is considered to belong to the state or department? Honestly, I do not know, but from what I know, and in the absence of any law or policy, I presume the recipients of such gifts would assume it to be theirs. This is not wrong, I suppose.

I am told that former PM Tun Dr. Mahathir received many gifts during his 22 years as PM, and I am not sure if any record is made to list the type of gifts. But I do know that Tun Dr. Mahathir has a show room built in Langkawi to exhibit some of the gifts that he had received. However, I do not know whether the exhibits are still his, or has it been handed over to the government. This is a noble way of saying that “I did receive the gifts on behalf of all Malaysians and I would like it to be seen and shared by all’.

Now our First Lady has been on an official visit to Oman and is presently in Bangladesh, with an entourage of ladies. Being classified as an official visit, I suppose it is an all paid visit. The itinerary looks like any other official state visits by our national leaders, where the First Lady made calls on state officials. It is therefore not to be a pleasure trip, but an official one. And I am quite sure there will be many gifts showered by the host to the First Lady and members of her entourage.

Now, if the First Lady and her entourage did receive gifts, and that the visit has an official status, how then would you like to regard such gifts? I’ll leave it to you for an answer.



maurice said...

What about military officers receiving expensive gifts?

MAF officers who are lucky to be nominated as Escort Officer to the Sultan of Brunei whenever His Highness makes a visit to Malaysia will always receive expensive gifts.

Don't they feel proud to keep such gifts as family heirloom?

Mohd Arshad Raji said...

Dear Maurice,

I do agree with you. This is where the Armed Forces has to set the rule and policies.....simply what can be taken and what cannot.

I know for sure that there is non today.

Arunzab said...

From what I am told by my former CO who happened to be the the ADC to the Agong in the seventies that the gifts received by the Agong when visiting foreign countries are taken away with him when his tenner as Agong was over. There is no gallery in the istana where gifts are displayed . In the US after the President receives a gift they then immediately hand the items over to the Gift Unit in the Office of Protocol, where administrators decide where the gifts will be placed.

During the Commonwealth Games in 1998 a former retired politician from Penang was appointed as Mayor of the Games village . All he did was to go around shaking hands. When the games were over he carted away all the gifts given to him as his personal property. Bearing in mind that the exchange gifts given to him were paid for by SUKOM. I know this because I was then the games village manager. Where do we go from here Dato'???

Mohd Arshad Raji said...

Dear Arunzab,

Well, let me say this......that the Mayor of the Games Village has no integrity,and can also be called a thief.

armouris said...

lagi info tentang Dr. Mahathir di SIHAT SELALU - Rahsia Muda Dr. Mahathir

wira said...

Do thieves have honour?
I suggest not!
I believe the Armed Forces Council Instruction is very explicit on the procedures to be followed in respect of gifts received from foreign military/non-military guests.
If I remember correctly, members of the MAF are required to declare all gifts received above a certain value. If he or she wishes to keep the said gift, he or she is required to purchase it at fair price. (sale carried out by way of an auction) and the money paid to AKP.
I do not know for sure whether this AFCI is still in force today?
But these are just rules; whether or not they are followed is another matter. Here rules are put in place to make us look civilized!!
High profile cases like the Tun Salleh Abbas dismissal, the buy-back of MAS stake from TR, the Lingam case and many others clearly reflect that rules in Malaysia are indeed meant to be broken.. Unless of course they modify back the OSA to be applicable to specific govt decisions and info that directly affect or impact national security eg The order of battle of the MAF, Contigency plans,MAF firepower and order of battle. etc. Bukannya the treasury decision to award the Submarine Rescue contract to Si Pulan bin Si Pulan through negotiation???
Asklah the Machiavalli Mahathir (nyawa liat)why he modified the old OSA put in place by the British with the all encompassing new one. Obvoiusly for Total CONTROL!!!
This act is today the most effective instrument of gov't control.
Would anyone like to contradict this?
To my mind, it is more debilitating to freedom than even the ISA.
So Pak Chad, what is a few gifts amongst friends!!!

Mohd Arshad Raji said...

Dear Wira,

Thanks for the information. I hope someone from the Armed Forces reads this and to appropriately enforce the AFCI relating to the receiving of gifts.