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Our ties with Pyongyang: What we didn’t know

 | March 11, 2017

Many previously hidden facts are now coming to the surface.

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korea-malaysia

Those Malaysians who love a good Korean soap opera must be sitting at the edge of their seats as they watch the true life whodunit that’s yet to reach its denouement. All the staples of a thriller are there: spies, assassins, femme fatales and even political intrigue.

But the untold subplots are even more intriguing. The alleged assassination of the half brother of the North Korean dictator has exposed many unknowns. For instance, few Malaysians knew that Putrajaya and Pyongyang had been enjoying cosy relations for several years or that North Koreans didn’t need visas to enter Malaysia.

When HELP University gave an honorary doctorate to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, no one batted an eyelid because the news was suppressed until newspapers started questioning the worth of the degree.

After last month’s assassination, the Reuters news agency dug up more evidence of North Korea’s links with Malaysia. The most explosive of them caused alarm bells to peal wildly in Putrajaya. Apparently, North Korean intelligence agents ran an office in Kuala Lumpur’s Little India, from where they sold battlefield radio equipment in violation of a United Nations arms embargo on Pyongyang.

The company selling the equipment is called Glocom. Were Malaysian authorities aware or unaware of what was happening under their noses? The contravention of the UN embargo is certainly unsettling news, considering that Malaysia was elected president of the UN Security Council for two consecutive terms.

Glocom has claimed that it is no longer operating. Its website has been re-registered as International Golden Services (IGS).

Glocom’s local contact was Mustapha Yaakub, and since 2014 he has been listed as a director of IGS. Mustapha is also the secretary of Umno Veterans.

Reuter’s revelation exposed  this and tarnished our reputation as a respected member of the UN. In simple terms, the North Koreans  were selling weaponry from Malaysian shores in clear contravention of a UN Security Council resolution.

When Kang Chol accused Malaysia of a botched investigation into Kim Jong Nam’s murder, Malaysia threw up its hands in horror at being insulted. The Malaysians demanded an apology, something that many governments would refuse to give because it is an admission of guilt.

The ding dong between Wisma Putra and the ambassador escalated when Malaysia declared Kang Chol persona non grata and ordered him to leave within 48 hours.

Sadly, Malaysians working at our embassy in Pyongyang are the pawns in this messy game of chess.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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