Malaysia’s dig­nity, se­cu­rity al­ways first

But a crime has been com­mit­ted, and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are not over yet

New Straits Times - - News -

AT best, it is lack of so­phis­ti­ca­tion. At worst, it is an ad­mis­sion of guilt. But, what­ever it is, North Korea’s be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able. Its re­ac­tion to the mur­der of a North Korean, sus­pected to be the es­tranged half-brother of the coun­try’s leader, is not one of re­spect for the dead. And, for the am­bas­sador to base­lessly ac­cuse Malaysia of with­hold­ing the re­mains as part of a con­spir­acy against Py­ongyang, is an in­sult. Granted the mur­der has put the am­bas­sador in an awk­ward po­si­tion, but a mur­der has oc­curred; hence, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion must be car­ried out as the coun­try’s laws ex­pect no less. That the gov­ern­ment re­acted and de­clared the am­bas­sador per­sona non grata and or­dered him to leave Malaysia within 48 hours since yes­ter­day is ex­pected.

Malaysia’s sovereignty and dig­nity can­not be tri­fled with. The coun­try is geostrate­gi­cally lo­cated and has long car­ried with it chal­lenges, but con­tem­po­rary his­tory has demon­strated how pro­tec­tive the lead­ers were and are of Malaysia’s neu­tral­ity and se­cu­rity. That sud­denly Malaysia has been iden­ti­fied as a con­duit for North Korean weapons sales to cir­cum­vent United Na­tions sanc­tions has left the coun­try’s of­fi­cials flab­ber­gasted, if not ut­terly dis­gusted. Malaysia is an open econ­omy and is foreign in­vest­ment-friendly, within lim­its of course. Reuters ran the story of a North Korean weapons net­work in Malaysia with­out solid ev­i­dence, quot­ing a draft of a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­port. It stated that North Korea was evad­ing sanc­tions through a net­work of over­seas front com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing in Malaysia. Surely, the UN could have eas­ily in­ves­ti­gated if it had any sus­pi­cions of North Korea’s sanc­tions be­ing busted? Pu­tra­jaya would be only too pleased to oblige. Nev­er­the­less, the com­pa­nies named by the re­port have been sum­mar­ily dereg­is­tered. Fur­ther­more, Malaysian law is harsh for any­body found with il­le­gal firearms.

Given the as­sault on the coun­try’s se­cu­rity, this lat­est move by the gov­ern­ment is Malaysia tak­ing and re­it­er­at­ing her stand. The gov­ern­ment has al­ready done away with the visa waiver ar­range­ment for North Kore­ans. This will en­sure bet­ter screen­ing of North Kore­ans wish­ing to come here. But, a crime has still been com­mit­ted, and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are still not yet com­pleted, far from it. And, with the North Korean am­bas­sador’s re­cal­ci­trance and re­fusal to apol­o­gise for his un­called for re­marks and lack of diplo­matic deco­rum for fail­ing to meet Wisma Pu­tra of­fi­cials af­ter be­ing sum­moned, what else can Malaysia do? Short of break­ing diplo­matic re­la­tions, Wisma Pu­tra is try­ing its level best to keep re­la­tions civil but ob­vi­ously, Py­ongyang is not mak­ing it easy. As Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi had said, North Korea must re­spect the diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship with Malaysia. He said declar­ing the am­bas­sador per­sona non grata was to send “a loud and clear mes­sage” to the North Korean gov­ern­ment that Malaysia does not take too kindly to al­le­ga­tions and ac­cu­sa­tions.

...con­tem­po­rary his­tory has demon­strated how pro­tec­tive the lead­ers were and are of Malaysia’s neu­tral­ity and se­cu­rity.

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