Mrs. Zuhaila Abd. Latif, wife of the Consul General of Malaysia in Mumbai, would like to share with all diplomats’ wives and the members of PERWAKILAN MUMBAI some useful tips she had obtained from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs, Malaysia on how to carry out the role of a diplomat’s wife.
1 – The diplomat’s wife should accompany her husband at post unless specified in a hardship posting, for example. While her career is important, some sacrifices are also required for the working wife.
2 – Wives should attend a pre-posting course before following her husband at post.
3 – A diplomat’s wife should take an interest in the history, customs and current affairs of Malaysia before gaining a better insight of her host country.
4 – It is encouraged for wives to understand that their husbands’ job can go beyond the normal working hours. Being away from home for a length of time and not able to attend to some pressing personal demands are but some of the sacrifices that wives have to face to support their husband’s role as a diplomat. Complement his role and lighten his workload and make his work easier.
5 – Be gracious, be tactful and be respectful to others. These are some of the traits that may prove to be an asset to your husband’s diplomatic career.
6 – Criticising the host country is a serious faux-pas. Be sensitive to the local customs, traditions and beliefs.
7 – Wives must first become a supportive member of PERWAKILAN before getting herself involved in the activities of local organisations.
8 – At post, the diplomat’s wife must quickly acquaint herself with the local places of interest, shopping malls, restaurants and any other related things that may be useful in carrying out her role.
9 – If your command of spoken English is weak, attempts must be made to improve your language skills. Your ability to speak the local language would be an advantage.
10 – It is encouraged to take up an activity of interest to diversify your knowledge. Develop a safe and pleasant hobby and continue to educate yourself.
11 – Foster ‘esprit de corps’ at all times not just within the Malaysian community but with the wider diplomatic community as well.
12 – Avoid back-biting or back-stabbing. It is an unhealthy habit.
13 – A diplomat’s wife should avoid arguments and quarreling with people. Be mindful of the fact that your ‘transient’ stay at post really is temporary. Bring home sweet and pleasant memories of your posting. Cherish it forever.
14 – It has been said that a good diplomat is one who gets along well with members of the Mission’s community first before they can be a good diplomat with the local or the foreign community. Likewise, a good diplomat’s wife is one who could do all the above and more.
15 – Observe the proper code of dressing. At official functions, wear our national dress-‘Baju Kurung’ or ‘Kebaya’. If the dress code is smart casual, choose one that is presentable – pant suits a safe bet.
16 – Be articulate. When asked for an opinion, say the right thing, choose the right words. Do not hurt anyone and do not be too familiar with some one you have just met.
17 – Living together in a small community can sometimes be a stressful experience. Under such circumstances, it is advisable to mind your own business. In times of adversity-think positive. It is the prerogative of the host to invite who ever they choose to be their guests. Do not take offence if you are not invited.
18 – Be a friend to all and an enemy to none. Never intrude into the privacy of your colleagues and friends. Respect them. Accept all invitations unless you have an unavoidable matter to attend to.
19 – Diplomat’s wives should avoid grouping amongst themselves at social functions. They should mingle with the other guests.
20 – Do not gossip, especially about the boss or the boss‘s wife. No one is perfect. Never wash your dirty linen in public. Learn to be discreet.
21 – The newly- arrived diplomat’s wife should make a courtesy call on the Head of Mission’s wife upon arrival and before she leaves the post.
22 – All wives attached to the Malaysian Mission are automatically members of ‘PERWAKILAN’. Be supportive of the Head of Mission’s wife in her role as chairman of ‘PERWAKILAN’.
23 – Protocol must be observed at all the times. Everyone should know their place and position in the overall organisational structure.
24 – Be considerate of others whose needs may be different from yours. As much as possible, avoid patronising anyone.
25 – Be house proud. Take good care of your house. Maintain a clean home and pay extra attention to your toilet/bathroom/powder room and the kitchen. This is yours and your country’s image.
26 – When accompanying a VIP’s wife on her official visit, the lady in attendance should not take advantage of the outing to do her personal chores at the same time.
27 – When your husband is posted to a difficult post, support him and do not give him unnecessary stress by complaining about the place. Wives should be happy to be with their husband and their children wherever they are assigned.