SENT PACK­ING

NORTH Korean am­bas­sador to Malaysia Kang Chol re­mains de­fi­ant in his de­par­ture, fir­ing a fi­nal salvo at the Malaysian gov­ern­ment. Mean­while, North Korea has re­tal­i­ated by giv­ing the Malaysian am­bas­sador 48 hours to leave.

New Straits Times - - Front Page -

EVEN as Malaysia was pack­ing off North Korean am­bas­sador Kang Chol yes­ter­day, the reclu­sive East Asian coun­try replied in a tit-for-tat fash­ion.

North Korean state-owned news agency KCNA an­nounced that Py­ongyang had given the Malaysian am­bas­sador to North Korea 48 hours to leave the coun­try, the same amount of time that

had been given to Kang (See ac­com­pa­ny­ing story).

Kang left on board Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH360 to Bei­jing, which took off from Kuala Lumpur In­ter­na­tional Air­port at 6.33pm. From China, he is ex­pected to fly to Py­ongyang.

Be­fore leav­ing, how­ever, the de­fi­ant and un­apolo­getic Kang fired off a fi­nal salvo in a fash­ion now fa­mil­iar to jour­nal­ists who have been cov­er­ing the af­ter­math of the Feb 13 as­sas­si­na­tion of Kim Jong-nam, the outcast half­brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kang slammed his treat­ment by Malaysia, say­ing that the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to de­clare him per­sona non grata and ex­pel him from the coun­try would “do great harm” to re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

“I’m leav­ing the coun­try to­day as the Malaysian gov­ern­ment has de­clared me per­sona non grata for what I said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Feb 17.

“I ex­press grave con­cern about the ex­treme mea­sures taken by the Malaysian gov­ern­ment, (which will in­flict) grave harm on our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, which has a his­tory of 40 years,” he told re­porters at KLIA.

Kang said the state­ment he had made pre­vi­ously was an ex­pres­sion of a “right­eous stand” in his ca­pac­ity as am­bas­sador on the “pre-tar­geted in­ves­ti­ga­tion” by Malaysian po­lice.

“Po­lice con­ducted a post­mortem ex­am­i­na­tion with­out the con­sent and at­ten­dance of North Korean em­bassy (of­fi­cers), then later ar­rested a cit­i­zen (of North Korea) with­out any clear ev­i­dence show­ing his in­volve­ment in the in­ci­dent,” he said.

Kang left Malaysia with his wife and grand­daugh­ter. He had ar­rived at KLIA at 4.30pm un­der po­lice es­cort.

It was be­lieved that his wife and grand­daugh­ter had ar­rived ear­lier to avoid me­dia at­ten­tion.

Though ru­mours had sur­faced that he would catch Flight MH360, press­men took no chances, with some gath­er­ing in KLIA from as early as 6am.

For­eign Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ani­fah Aman said yes­ter­day Kang was ex­pelled “pri­mar­ily for his in­sult­ing re­marks against Malaysia and its due process”.

“The re­marks, made in a se­ries of state­ments — both writ­ten and oral — to the me­dia and, there­fore, to the pub­lic at large, was aimed at call­ing into ques­tion the coun­try’s crim­i­nal pro­ce­dures and due dili­gence in the con­duct of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“The am­bas­sador’s re­marks were un­be­com­ing of a for­eign en­voy. Diplo­matic state­craft re­quires the sen­si­tive han­dling of the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween states.

“In the case of the (North Korean) am­bas­sador, his deroga­tory re­marks and base­less al­le­ga­tions in the days lead­ing up to his ex­pul­sion made it im­pos­si­ble for the Malaysian gov­ern­ment to con­tinue to work with him as his na­tion’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“In essence, once he had lost his cred­i­bil­ity as an en­voy and the con­fi­dence of his host na­tion, his pres­ence was no longer wanted.”

Wisma Pu­tra had, on Satur­day, de­clared Kang per­sona non grata. He was given 48 hours to leave the coun­try. The de­ci­sion was made fol­low­ing de­lib­er­a­tions at the cabi­net level over his re­fusal to apol­o­gise for dis­parag­ing re­marks against Malaysia.

Among the things Kang had said were that Malaysia was col­lud­ing with “hos­tile” na­tions against North Korea.

He was be­lieved to be al­lud­ing to South Korea and the United States.

Kang had also called into ques­tion po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Jong-nam’s death, re­fused to ac­cept the re­sults of a post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion con­ducted on the re­mains and de­manded the re­lease of a North Korean cit­i­zen ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the case but later re­leased and de­ported.

A se­nior For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial yes­ter­day said al­though Kang was de­clared per­sona non grata, he was still ac­corded full diplo­matic sta­tus, in­clud­ing im­mu­nity.

“We will be mon­i­tor­ing him un­til he ar­rives safely in Py­ongyang. Even though be­ing de­clared per­sona non grata is a se­ri­ous ‘of­fence’ for a diplo­mat, we still ac­cord him full priv­i­leges as an am­bas­sador as stip­u­lated in the Vienna Con­ven­tion on Diplo­matic Re­la­tions of 1961.

“He didn’t have to go through the full im­mi­gra­tion check-out process. He was free to use the diplo­matic lane (at KLIA),” said the of­fi­cial. Page 1 pic: North Korean am­bas­sador to Malaysia Kang Chol be­ing es­corted by po­lice at the Kuala Lumpur In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Sepang yes­ter­day.

PIC BY MO­HAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

North Korean am­bas­sador to Malaysia Kang Chol (right) leav­ing the North Korean em­bassy in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing de­clared per­sona non grata.

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