PERSONA NON GRATA
Kang Chol, embassy officials had failed to show up when summoned by Wisma Putra
The North Korean ambassador, Kang Chol, has been given 48 hours from 6pm yesterday to leave the country. This follows Pyongyang’s refusal to apologise for disparaging remarks made against Malaysia over investigations into the death of Kim Jong-nam.
MALAYSIA has declared North Korea’s ambassador Kang Chol persona non grata and given him 48 hours to leave the country.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the action was taken against the ambassador after he and North Korean embassy officials failed to meet Wisma Putra after being summoned.
The meeting was to take place at 6pm yesterday.
He said Kang Chol and senior embassy officials failed to meet the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Secretary-General for Bilateral Affairs Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.
“Neither the ambassador nor senior embassy officials were present at the ministry.”
Anifah also revealed that Foreign Ministry officials, led by Raja Nushirwan, had met a high-level North Korean delegation led by Kim Song last Tuesday.
During the meeting, Anifah said, the Malaysian government demanded a written apology from North Korea for the accusations against Malaysia made by the North Korean ambassador.
He said the delegation was informed that if no response was received by 10pm that day, the government would take measures that would best protect its interests.
“Almost four days have passed since the deadline lapsed. No such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming.
“For this reason, the ambassador has been declared persona non grata,” Anifah said.
He said for this reason, Wisma Putra, via a diplomatic note sent to the embassy yesterday evening, informed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) government that Kang Chol had been declared persona non grata by the government.
“He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, which was 6pm today (yesterday),” Anifah said last night.
In diplomatic parlance, persona non grata meant “person not appreciated”.
It means that a foreign person who is prohibited from entering or remaining in a country by that country’s government and is deemed the most serious form of disapproval that the country can apply to foreign diplomats.
It is also often used to express displeasure at the conduct or policies of the sending state.
According to Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), the receiving country may at any time and without having to explain its decision, declare ambassadors, heads of missions or any member of the diplomatic staff as persona non grata.
In such cases, the sending state shall recall the person or terminate his function with the embassy or mission.
It also states that if the sending state refuses to do so, the receiving state may refuse to recognise the person concerned as a member of the embassy or mission.
Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and North Korea became strained after Kang criticised Malaysia for refusing to release the body of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Jong-nam, travelling under the passport bearing the name “Kim Chol”, was assassinated at klia2 on Feb 13.
The ambassador had suggested that Malaysia was trying to “conceal something” and was colluding with hostile forces against North Korea in its investigation into the murder.
Anifah pointed out that recent events, including the release of North Korean suspect Ri Jongchol from police custody for the lack of evidence was proof that the investigation was conducted in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, befitting a country that practised the rule of law.
He said it should be clear that Malaysia would react strongly to insults against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.
“The expulsion of the DPRK ambassador comes at the heels of the decision of the Malaysian government, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, that effective Monday (today), citizens of DPRK require visas to enter Malaysia.
“This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities.”
Anifah said the measures were part of the process by the government to review its relations with North Korea.
we have the records as we have state-of-the-art equipment,” he said yesterday after the launch of the Penang Maritime Volunteers Force in Gelugor here.
However, Dr Hilmi said, the ministry had yet to get the records.
“We will carry out the test after receiving the DNA records. We have to wait for the Home and Foreign Affairs Ministries to give us family or medical and dental records.”
He said there was no progress on the identification process, pending DNA samples from next of kin or medical and dental records.
“The police and Foreign Affairs Ministry are looking for the medical and dental records.”
Asked whether tattoos on the body could be used for identification, Dr Hilmi said it would be tough to do so as there were no official records of the tattoos on Jong-nam’s body.
“I will leave it to the forensics team to answer that because they are the experts.”
Members of the media were still camping outside the Forensics Department at Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday.
Datuk Seri Anifah Aman
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya (right) and Langkawi Maritime District 1 Chief Maritime Enforcer First Admiral Zulkarnain Mohd Omar after launching the Penang Maritime Volunteers Force in George Town yesterday.