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Expel North Korea envoy, ex-diplomat tells govt

 | February 16, 2017

Malaysia's diplomatic ties with Pyongyang help give the regime a semblance of credibility, says diplomat.

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PETALING JAYA: A veteran Malaysian diplomat who has served in Beijing and Pyongyang has urged Putrajaya to expel the North Korean ambassador in Kuala Lumpur, if North Korean agents were indeed involved in the assassination, following strong indications that the regime’s agents had carried out the assassination of the half brother of strongman Kim Jong-un.

“If it is indeed confirmed that North Korean agents did in fact assassinate Kim Jong Nam at klia2, it would represent a very serious diplomatic breach,”and “a total disregard for the norms of inter-state relations. It is very disrespectful to Malaysia”, said Dennis Ignatius.

He said there was nothing surprising if North Korean secret agents had indeed killed Jong Nam, the 46-year-old son of late dictator Kim Jong-il who was said to have run out of favour with the current leadership.

“North Korea has long behaved like an outlaw regime engaging in assassinations, kidnapping, smuggling and other actions unbecoming of a nation state,” he said.

Malaysian police have launched an investigation into Jong Nam’s death, although it would not confirm his identity.

Police who have classified the case as “sudden death”, have yet to formally identify him, but said the man was travelling on a passport bearing the name Kim Chol, a name used by Jong Nam when travelling.

Reports say he was at budget terminal klia2 in Sepang to board a flight to Macau on Monday, when a woman sprayed a liquid and covered his face with cloth from behind. A female Vietnamese passport holder was arrested, hours after police released a taxi driver who had ferried the suspects.

Police have sent Jong Nam’s body for a post-mortem at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. Yesterday, the government rejected a request from North Korea to skip the post-mortem.

“The incident happened here and we have to conduct a thorough investigation and the post-mortem is part of the procedure,” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim told FMT.

Dennis said the entire operation to kill Jong Nam could not have taken place without approval from the highest levels of government in Pyongyang.

“Wisma Putra would no doubt be considering a range of options. Given the seriousness of the issue, I would hope that a very strong message is sent to the North Korean regime. They must not be allowed to think they can get away with such outrageous behaviour.

“In due course, it might also be appropriate to consider closing down our embassy in Pyongyang and bringing home our long suffering diplomats who have the misfortune to be assigned there,” said Dennis, adding that Malaysia’s diplomatic ties with North Korea “only helped to give the regime a semblance of credibility that it does not deserve”.

Foreign reports have said Malaysia was “one of a dwindling number of countries” having close relations with North Korea, which has ignored calls to stop its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.


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