KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak has instructed that only he and his deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, can comment on Malaysia’s current conflict with North Korea, in order to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens currently barred from leaving Pyongyang.
This was revealed by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to reporters on the sidelines of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights’ judicial colloquium here today,
“On North Korean matters, the only persons who can comment are the prime minister and the deputy prime minister.
“We have been given the instruction because we fear if too many people are talking (about the conflict), it will jeopardise the negotiations,” Apandi told reporters.
According to the AG, although not much information could be revealed at the moment, “the good thing is that negotiations are still going on.”
“Details of the negotiations, I don’t know. But whatever it is, both parties agreed to negotiate.”
The Malaysian and North Korean governments have clashed in the past two weeks after declaring each other’s ambassadors as persona non grata.
The move came in the wake of a three-week stand-off triggered by the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Kuala Lumpur.
The North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur has refused to cooperate with Malaysian police investigating Jong Nam’s death, while Pyongyang has rejected allegations that it had a hand in the attack at klia2 on Feb 13.
Jong Nam was attacked by two female assailants with a substance that an autopsy later revealed as the VX nerve agent, a chemical weapon banned by the United Nations.
On March 7, North Korea said it would not allow the 11 Malaysians in the country to leave. In a tit-for-tat move, Putrajaya announced a similar directive preventing all North Koreans from leaving the country.
However, a couple of days later two Malaysians employed by the United Nations under its World Food Programme (WFP) in North Korea were safely repatriated by the UN and moved to Beijing.