KUALA LUMPUR: Outgoing Chinese ambassador Dr Huang Huikang – perhaps the most active and outspoken diplomat in Malaysia – has earned the respect of the local Chinese community after four years here.
The awe the envoy commands among Malaysian Chinese could be discerned from the farewell dinners organised by various groups since he broke the news on Sept 26, that his term in Malaysia will end this month.
Dr Huang, who came to Malaysia in January 2014, will leave on Oct 18 to assume his duties as an elected member of the International Law Commission at the United Nations.
At all the gatherings, he was heaped with praise for his role in pushing Malaysia-China bilateral ties to a record high.
During his tenure, China-Malaysia trade breached US$100bil (RM420bil) for the first time in 2015. And investments from China galloped to the top spot, from an insignificant level before he came.
For the Malaysian Government, perhaps the most appreciated had to be the timely purchase of the energy assets of 1MDB in late 2015 by a Chinese corporation that prevented a sovereign downgrade of Malaysia by international rating agencies.
At the farewell dinner last Monday at Wisma Hua Zong with leading Chinese businessmen, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said: “Among all the 14 ambassadors who have served in Malaysia, Dr Huang is the most popular, hardworking and influential. He is an outstanding diplomat.”
“In pushing for China’s Belt and Road initiative, you have led us to join the bandwagon. You have indeed done a meaningful job,” he told Dr Huang.
Referring to Dr Huang as “a good friend of the Chinese community”, Hua Zong president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah recalled he was very impressed by the emergency measures put in place at the Chinese Embassy in response to MH370 and MH17 air disasters.
Amid negative international news coverage on MH370, Dr Huang did Kuala Lumpur a favour. He thanked the Malaysian Govern-ment for all the effort put in and cooperation given, and told Chinese tourists to continue coming.
Visibly elated by the praise, the smiling Dr Huang declared unabashedly: “I may not be the best Chinese diplomat, but I can boast that I am the most hardworking ambassador.”
He revealed that out of the 264 leave days he was entitled to in the four years here, he has only utilised 33.
Apart from carrying out his official duties, Dr Huang is known for his outreach activities. He visited Chinese guilds, gave donations to schools, as well as spent Chinese New Year with ordinary folk.
Due to Dr Huang’s recommendations, 35 Malaysians were appointed advisers to China’s Overseas Chinese Committee, the highest number in Asia and second in the world after the Americans.
At Hua Zong’s dinner, tycoon Tan Sri Chua Ma Yu told The Star: “This is an ambassador who has performed very well. He has earned the respect of the Chinese community here.”
At the dinner organised by Associated Chinese Chamber and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) yesterday, ACCCIM president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap said: “Dr Huang is well-loved by the Chinese community. I am sure trade and investments will hit new highs again due to the foundations he has laid for the Belt and Road initiative.”
The energetic diplomat’s footprint is seen in Xiamen University Malaysia, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, East Coast Rail Link, Melaka Gateway, Malaysia Digital Free Trade Zone and Proton-Geely joint venture.
The 62-year-old international law expert became the most-followed diplomat after his famous Chinatown walkabout just a day before a planned “Red Shirt” rally in Petaling Street in September 2015.
He was caught in a diplomatic row for saying China was against anyone resorting to violence to disrupt public order, and would not stand idle if the interests of China’s citizens and firms were undermined. He escaped unscathed from this episode.
Proud of his own record, the former vice-mayor of Tangshan in Hebei province directed his staff to compile all his media statements, speeches and press reports on him over the past four years.
He will be the first ambassador in Malaysia to put out a “report card” before he leaves.
At the dinner for Dr Huang hosted by Malaysia-China Friendship Association last Friday, the remarks by former Malaysian ambassador to China Datuk Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan aptly portrayed the VIP guest: “You are a true diplomat, but in many ways you also qualify to be a politician. In totality, you are an ambassador par excellence.”