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First ambassador to Holy See from Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN): Bernard Dompok, the former minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities in Malaysia, has been appointed as the country’s first ambassador to the Holy See, it was announced on March 22.

He was also the chief minister of the state of Sabah from 1998 to 1999.

In announcing the appointment, the minister for Foreign Affairs, Anifah Aman, described him as being the right choice for the job, as on previous occasions he has led Malaysian delegations on official visits to the Vatican.

He has ambassadorial experience in Malta and Albania.

Born in 1949 in what was then British North Borneo, Dompok received his early education at St. Michael and La Salle Secondary School.

The state news agency, Bernama, quoted a Catholic community advocate, Joseph Sta. Maria, as calling Dompok’s appointment a blessing for the Christian community in the country and describing his as a most fitting candidate to hold the post.

Archbishop Joseph Marino, from the United States of America, was appointed as the first nuncio from the Holy See to Malaysia one year ago.

Kuala Lumpur officially formed diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 2011, becoming the 179th nation to make such ties.

Prior to Archbishop Marino’s appointment, the Holy See had an apostolic delegate to Malaysia living in Bangkok, but he was accredited to the Church in Malaysia and not the government.

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