Saifuddin: Digital diplomacy can never replace face-to-face diplomacy

Saifuddin: Digital diplomacy can never replace face-to-face diplomacy

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 18): While it is important to embrace digital diplomacy in the post pandemic period, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah reminded the diplomatic community to continue their tradition of engaging in face-to-face interaction.

He also said they should also establish greater networking with their respective stakeholders which will greatly help them to shine at the international stage.

While diplomacy in the post pandemic world has become a different ball-game altogether, where physical presence is no longer a selling factor, this is quite a challenge as the cornerstone of diplomacy is building rapport and networking.

“There are many instances, I believe even in the post pandemic period, people may think it saves time, energy and resources by meeting virtually, but there are meetings you just cannot substitute with video conferencing. You need to meet up especially when comes to crisis and conflict resolution.

“You can’t beat nudging each other over the dinner table, some diplomats going to the green to play golf or going movies together. You cannot beat those close relations. That rapport need to be built overtime which requires face to face communication,” he told reporters after attending the royal address by Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak entitled “Shaping A New Generation of Diplomats” at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) 30th-anniversary celebration, here, today.

Saifuddin said this referring the call made by Sultan Nazrin, who is the royal patron of IDFR, at the ceremony that digital diplomacy will not be able to replace face to face meeting.

Sultan Nazrin in his address said as a communicator, diplomats were encouraged to embrace digital diplomacy to complement traditional face-to-face diplomacy as it could greatly assist in projecting a state’s foreign policy position to domestic and foreign audiences. – Bernama