‘LOUD AND CLEAR MESSAGE’
AMBASSADOR Kang Chol was expelled to make North Korea understand that Malaysia is deadly serious about solving the murder of Kim Jong-nam, says the deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, experts believe now is a good time to rethink the value of diplomatic rel
MALAYSIA needed to send a “very loud and clear message” to North Korea that it was serious about addressing Kim Jong-nam’s murder.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday this was one of the reasons why the cabinet declared North Korean ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.
He warned Pyongyang not to manipulate the issue, stressing that Malaysia had conducted its investigation into the assassination of Jong-nam, the exiled halfbrother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a professional manner based on sound evidence and intelligence.
Zahid said North Korea needed to be open-minded and “learn to respect other countries” when dealing with complex and sensitive issues.
He said the murder was of international interest and the country needed to look beyond its agenda to handle the matter.
“They have to respect our diplomatic relationship. This is not about North Korean citizens alone... we need to look into the interests of the international community.
“They (North Korea) are not regarding this issue as an international issue but as a matter pertinent only to them, and I think North Korea has to learn to respect other countries,” he said after attending a closed-door meeting with Sabah Umno leaders and members here.
The Foreign Ministry had, on Saturday, announced that Kang would be given 48 hours from 6pm that day to leave the country after failing to show up after being summoned by Wisma Putra.
Among the reasons cited was Pyongyang’s refusal to apologise for accusations it had hurled at Kuala Lumpur over the handling of the murder investigation.
On the country’s state of readiness to face any eventuality should diplomatic ties with Pyongyang break down, Zahid said other nations, too, faced such issues with North Korea.
“We feel that, as an international community, we must cooperate with each other and not aggravate or manipulate an issue.
“Their (North Korea’s) agenda is focused on internal matters. They need to be outward-looking instead of inward-looking and this is something they have to understand.”
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid
Hamidi at the Sabah Umno building in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.