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Ambassador Victor Foh of China interacts with Sierra Leoneans in Australia

Ambassador Victor Foh of China interacts with Sierra Leoneans in Australia

The Sierra Leone Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh (in photo), interacted with the Sierra Leoneans in Australia, especially those in Sydney during an exclusive radio telephone interview from China. The interview was conducted by one of the Sierra Leone community radio presenters Anthony Bee-Conteh, from the Radio Skid Row FM-88.9, 145 Addison Road, Marrickville, Sydney.

The interview was advertised several times on different occasions to ensure that many Sierra Leoneans were aware of the date and time the Ambassador would be available to talk to them through the community radio.

When soundeding the opinion of the vibrant and hard working Press Attaché, Mr. John Baimba Sesay about the intended interview with his boss on the Sierra Leone community radio in Sydney in a brief telephone interview on the radio before the Ambassador’s scheduled interview, he said that Ambassador Victor Foh was more than happy to be in touch with Sierra Leoneans in Australia whether physically or by any means possible since Australia is one of the countries which the embassy governs.  He added that his boss, Ambassador Victor Foh is preparing to pay a visit to Australia in the near future.

Now read a summary of what Ambassador Foh said in the interview.

When Hon. Ambassador Victor Foh, was asked to briefly introduce himself to his listeners, he said that is name is Victor Bockarie Foh, Ambassador for Sierra Leone to the People’s Republic of China.  He said that he was born at Jimmy Gbagboir, Bo district in the Southern part of Sierra Leone.  “I started school at Jimmy and later attended the Bo Secondary School, Bo and from Bo School to the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College (FBC) in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, in the Western Area  of the country”.  He said that he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Economics.  He said that he was the Secretary General of the current ruling party the All People’s Congress (APC) since 2005 to May 5, 2013 when he was appointed by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as ambassador to represent the country and Sierra Leoneans in China.  He stated that currently he is representing 12 countries, China, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, North Korea, Japan, etc.

When he was asked what motivated him to take up such a new appointment and leave his Secretary General’s position, “nothing motivated me; the appointment did not motivate me. Nothing gravitated me for such appointment, he said. Therefore it is not on my own motivation. It was a call to duty by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who appointed me to represent the country and the people of Sierra Leone,” as I already said.

Talking on the differences between his former Secretary General position and his new job, he said that during that period, he was doing arm chair diplomacy in the country but now he is doing international diplomacy, which is meeting people to people, cultural exchange, tourism, business and political diplomacy for the benefit of the country. “I have done a lot for my party and the country as a whole during my Secretary Generalship, including the restructuring of the party, making peace within the party, sharing ideas with other party members and my participation in peace building in the country. So now I am in the diplomatic field to promote my country, Sierra Leone”.

When asked about some of the challenges if there are any in his new office as compared to his former job. “Yes, there are challenges,” he said.  He stated that some of the challenges include the entering of a new diplomatic arena work program schedule which includes Chinese cultural exchange, tourism, the making of new friends and the developing of communication system that will reach every country that is under his supervision for effective and efficient coordination without too much strain. Also the meeting of people to people approach method to promote the country and the building of the Embassy’s commercial profile section. “Because I need competent and capable Sierra Leoneans to run such department in my Embassy to represent each of the 12 countries my Embassy is governing.  To effectively and efficiently coordinate commercial business transactions for Sierra Leone, whereas in my former job, as I said before, I was doing arm chair diplomacy, including settling intra party issues, the country’s peace building and its development  process participation” he added.

Hon Foh said that he is not only an Ambassador for APC political party but he is an Ambassador for all political parties and Sierra Leoneans living in Australia, and other countries, that are under his Embassy, irrespective of political party affiliation or tribe.  Therefore, the doors of his Embassy are always open to all Sierra Leoneans, he emphasized. “We have been too far away from Australia for too long, therefore; it is time to focus on Australia because we have bulk of Sierra Leoneans living in Australia and currently Australia is also doing extremely well in helping the country’s development, including educational sector and the mining sector”.

He also added that there are many Sierra Leoneans living in Australia and they have immensely been contributing to the country’s socio economic development in diverse ways, including sending money to their families,  relatives  and friends to improve their lives. “I will soon visit Australia to present my papers to the Australian government and to also meet with the Sierra Leone community in the country to familiarize myself with their problems. Although I may not be able to solve everyone’s problem, as such we can dialogue in order to meet at a point as brothers and sisters. Because I want them to know that I am for them in China as a result, I am willing to work with them amicably for the benefit of our country, Sierra Leone,” he said.

Mr. Edmondson Sonny Cole, a veteran photographer journalist, who turned to radio presenter in Australia and who also happens to be the Sierra Leone Community Council (SLCC) Chairman in Sydney explained to Hon Ambassador Foh some of the good works that the Sierra Leone community in Australia, especially Sydney, have been undertaking towards the development of Sierra Leone, including the 68 schools that are being sponsored by one of the organizations in Sydney called Kanga Schools Project program in the country and the bringing of Dr Nahim in Australia in 2010 through the support of one of the organizations, Services for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Tortured and Trauma Survival (STARTTS) that was  ready to assist Sierra Leone, especially in the health sector.

Mr. Sonny Cole explained that when Dr. Nahim came to Australia in 2010, he put the name of the country on the map of Australia, especially for his vast experience and for his also being the only Psychiatrist Dr in the country. He therefore, made a lot of contacts and connections on behalf of the country that needed follow up. He cited one of the documents the community and STARTTS prepared and submitted to the Australian government to help the country, especially on mental health sector.

He said that when the community solicited assistance  from the Australian Government for Sierra Leone, particularly for the health sector, the Australian government told the community that they as a government  would like to deal with government to government rather than individual, therefore, the Sierra Leone government should write a letter of request for assistantce for such area. He said to the Ambassador that he personally went to Freetown with the document and presented it to President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House. The President was really very much impressed for the good work of the Sierra Leone community in Australia for undertaking such good initiative for the country’s development.

He stated that by then the President called his Protocol Officer, Mr. Sullay Daramy and instructed him to act on the document by writing the letter of request immediately. But up to today nothing  seemed to be done towards that. He said he and Dr. Nahim personally went to State House and met with Mr. Sullay Daramy to make a follow up and they also made several telephone calls to him but up to this time nothing has been done towards that, Dr. Nahim in Freetown could testify that he said. “I am saying all this because up to now, no feedback has been received in connection with the outcome of the said letter as a community from Mr. Daramy/State House “he added.

This delay has frustrated the efforts of many patriotic and hard working Sierra Leonean community members in Australia. “Just imagine from 2010 up to this present day we did not hear anything about the letter in question”, he emphasized.

Mr. Cole therefore, as Chairman of the Sierra Leone Community Council (SLCC) in Australia, especially Sydney, appealed to Hon. Victor Foh to use his official influence to see that the letter of request is written to the Australian government in order to create more employment opportunity for the people of Sierra Leone if that has not been done, and if that has been done he should make a follow up about that

Mr. Sonny Cole admonished Hon. Foh not to listen to his detractors, he should continue  doing his good work for the country, because he (Sonny Cole)  and the patriotic hard working community members are also facing the same pull him done syndrome (PHD) by enemies of peace and progress in the community and the country.

In his response, Hon. Foh advised hard working and peace loving Sierra Leoneans not to allow enemies of peace and development to divide them. His Excellency Hon. Ambassador Foh thanked Mr. Cole as Chairman and the community as a whole for undertaking such good venture for the benefit of the country. However, he requested for a copy of the said document for him to see what he would do next.

There were lots of telephone calls from members of the Sierra Leone community in Australia that tried to reach the Ambassador; one of the callers was one Mr. Amdu Bangura, in Sydney  one of the young Sierra Leonean Lawyers in Australia.  He asked Ambassador Foh how the young and educated Sierra Leone would do to give their own quota in the agenda for prosperity in the country.  Hon. Foh said to him that all young and dynamic patriotic educated Sierra Leoneans should go and help to develop the country through the agenda for prosperity by undertaking gainful employment or business venture.  However, he caution that let no Sierra Leonean think that today he goes to Sierra Leone and the next day he would start to work. “No, it is not automatic as one may think, he said.  Everything has a process and time.  And with patience and determination everything is possible”, he added.

By Tony Bee, Sydney, Australia

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