Former foreign minister Anifah Aman has told incumbent Hishammuddin Hussein to admit his error in making a "big brother" reference to China, instead of compounding the matter by disputing it.
Anifah (above) said the Sembrong MP tried to justify his action by saying that he was referring to China Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he used the term "big brother" as a show of personal respect, and it was not related to bilateral ties.
"In regard to this, simply put, my comment is: Hishammuddin has committed a diplomatic faux pas.
"The phrase used was not only inappropriate but had clearly put Wang in a difficult and embarrassing position. Wang's body language said it all, and he quickly uttered the phrase 'we are brothers'," said Anifah in a statement today.
He added that as Malaysia’s top diplomat, Hishammuddin should be more circumspect and tactful in his choice of words or phrasing.
"After all, as the saying goes, diplomacy is the first line of defence. Instead of arguing and trying to justify such a wrong choice of phrase, Hishammuddin should have just accepted that he committed a diplomatic faux pas.
"It was wrong enough to commit a diplomatic faux pas but to argue and try to justify such a diplomatic faux pas clearly show the real character of the person," Anifah said.
Earlier today, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim also criticised Hishamuddin's comment saying that it may have set the country's foreign policy back by 25 years.
"It signals to the international community that Malaysia's orientation as a neutral nation is changing under the Perikatan Nasional government," he said.
The opposition leader also called on the foreign minister to apologise to the rakyat and withdraw his remark.