Malaysian High Commissioner to Nigeria finds peace in prayer
KUCHING — Sarawakians, particularly the Bidayuhs, take pride in the appointment of Mdm Gloria Corina Peter Tiwet as the Malaysian High Commissioner to Nigeria. She is the first Bidayuh woman to be appointed as a Malaysian envoy.
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Kuching are no less delighted. Gloria is a parishioner of St Joseph’s Cathedral and attends the Sunday Masses together with her family.
Born in 1972, Gloria is the fourth of six children of Peter Tiwet, 74 and Lucy Rippiang, 72. Both her parents are from Singai, Bau. She and her siblings grew up and received their education in Kuching. Gloria received her primary and secondary education in SRB and SMB St Teresa respectively. After Form 6 in St Joseph’s school, she furthered her studies in Political Science in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang.
During her secondary school years, Gloria was actively involved in the Young Christian Students (YCS). “YCS is a family to me because YCS St Teresa and YCS St Joseph used to have programmes together,” she told Today’s Catholic during an interview on 24 March. The tears that welled up in her eyes proved how much she must have enjoyed her time with the YCS.
“When I was in Form 4, I helped out as a reader at the Morning Prayer. As I did the reading this morning at Mass, it was nostalgic,” said Gloria. Archbishop Simon Poh presided over at a thanksgiving Mass for Gloria and her family and friends in the morning of 24 March.
“Our activities (in YCS) mainly focused on supporting each other and serving the community,” shared Gloria. Other activities included fund raising from families, friends and the public during Lent, serving in the choir, voluntary work and visits to Cheshire Home and the like, and joining the youth programme in Bau. When she first met Archbishop Simon Poh and Fr John Chong, then seminarians, both of them were working with the youth.
Gloria always believes that education is the way forward. Her parents played an important role in her success today. “When I was younger, my parents, especially my father, made sure that we are proficient in English,” Gloria recalled. “In the evening, we would watch the news in English, read English newspaper and play scrabble”.
What she saw on the television when she was 9 years old became her dream. “I saw a lady receiving a scroll from His Majesty the King. As a young girl, I too wanted to be like that lady to meet the king. That stayed on with me,” said Gloria.
She continued to pursue the ambition to become that lady she saw on the television, which has become a reality. “I joined the administrative diplomatic service as soon as I graduated from USM. This year is my 22nd year in service. It has been very challenging, rewarding, a lot of tears and sweat, but I believe that it was all for a good cause,” she revealed.
On 12 February, Gloria received her instruments of appointment as a Malaysian envoy from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, at Istana Negara.
Gloria was posted to Santiago, Chile in 2002-2003, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2003-2006, and Stockholm, Sweden in 2011-2015. Prior to her posting to Nigeria, she was the director of the Sarawak Regional Office in the Foreign Ministry.
Asked about the challenges she has faced while in foreign lands, she remarked that each country is different. “It depends on the countries – the people, the culture, the work ethics, the weather, the food, the environment – when it comes to work, we do not know what is to come. We cannot predict.”
As for her new posting to Nigeria, she has made herself ready. “I am ready as far as work is concerned. I prepare myself mentally and physically for anything that may come later. As the high commissioner, I carry the name of the country and the King with me. I believe with faith and prayer everything will be alright.”
It was through YCS that her faith in God grew and matured. Her Catholic faith is very important to her. God has always been the source of her strength. “Throughout my journey, God is there with me. I thank YCS for the programmes that had built up my inner self. There are elements of prayer to build up our faith. When we get older, we continue to put into practice what we have learnt and put our trust in God,” said Gloria.
For a Catholic to be sent to a country like Nigeria where persecution of Christians is not unheard of, is Gloria not worried? The answer is yes, but she trusts in God’s protection and providence. “I do get worried if I think too much over it. There are more than 100 high commissions in Abuja,” she said. “Do not worry about things that are not there in reality. Have peace. Peace is found in prayers.”
Today, many Catholic parents saw that striving for academic excellence is more crucial than helping their children build a relationship with God. This is evident in the decreasing membership in YCS and poor participation in youth activities. To this, Gloria has a message for parents. “The development of a child is not focused on academic alone but holistic. Yes, they need to study hard and have good grades, but that is not everything. We also need to provide our children with the time and space for them to grow spiritually.”
“Parents, spend time with your children, join them in their activities. Sometimes when we are of age, we forgot how much fun we had when we were young. As parents, we need to guide our children to the right path, and the right path is to bring them closer to God.”
To the students and youth, she shared the secret of her success. “Focus on what you want to achieve, but never let go of your loved ones. Your parents will always be there to guide you. Pray to God, he will always lead you. Whatever happens along the way, be assured that there are always reasons why things happened, and eventually you will understand,” she said.
Gloria encouraged students to join the YCS. “YCS provides us with stability and faith. During the activities, you get to interact a lot with your friends, but at the end of the day, it all comes back to you and God. This is your journey. You need inner strength to make this journey. [The values you learnt in YCS] will guide your journey throughout your adult life.”
Gloria left for Nigeria with her husband, Raj, on 3 April.
Today’s Catholic Vol.30 No.1 April 2018
Read the same news in Bahasa Malaysia: Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaysia ke Nigeria rasa damai dalam doa