WE ARE FINE, SAYS EM­BASSY OF­FI­CIAL SAYS EM­BASSY OF­FI­CIAL

11 Malaysians trapped in North Korea fol­low­ing ban

New Straits Times - - News - HARIZ MOHD KUALA LUMPUR harizm@nst.com.my

“T HANK God, we are fine here. Please pray for our safety.”

Those were the words of an of­fi­cial at the Malaysian em­bassy in Py­ongyang, who are among 11 Malaysians stuck in North Korea fol­low­ing a ban on Malaysians leav­ing the coun­try.

S. Nir­mala Malar Kodi, who works at the em­bassy as an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant, said the Malaysians there were safe and in good con­di­tion de­spite the ris­ing ten­sion be­tween the two coun­tries.

She told the New Straits Times yes­ter­day the go­ing-ons at the em­bassy were like a nor­mal work­ing day, and that there was no ban against them leav­ing the em­bassy at the Diplo­matic En­clave Mun­hung-dong in Tae­dong­gang dis­trict.

“Ev­ery­thing is good and un­der con­trol. It is a nor­mal day for us here. We (em­bassy staff and fam­i­lies) are here (at the em­bassy).

“There’s no pro­hi­bi­tion against us leav­ing the em­bassy build­ing. It’s just that we did not go out,” she said.

When asked if there was any cor­don or North Korean au­thor­i­ties block­ing the em­bassy, Nir­mala said “no”.

How­ever, she de­clined to com­ment on the pro­hi­bi­tion against Malaysians leav­ing North Korea, cit­ing that she was not au­tho­rised to give of­fi­cial com­ments.

Nir­mala, who is from Ipoh, said they re­ceived many calls from fam­ily and friends who were con­cerned about their safety since the diplo­matic row started.

“Since the case hap­pened, ev­ery­body was wor­ried about us. But we are fine here.

“The am­bas­sador has also called to check on us from time to time,” she said.

How­ever, when asked if they were wor­ried about their safety, es­pe­cially when they were barred from leav­ing the coun­try, Nir­mala seemed hes­i­tant to an­swer and could only laugh a lit­tle.

As of yes­ter­day, there were 11 Malaysians in North Korea, in­clud­ing four civil ser­vants, their five fam­ily mem­bers, and two oth­ers who work for the United Na­tions mis­sion there.

Ac­cord­ing to Wisma Pu­tra’s web­site, be­sides the am­bas­sador, there were four other Malaysian of­fi­cials who are at­tached to the em­bassy.

They in­clude Nir­mala, coun­sel­lor Mohd Nor Azrin Md Zain, sec­ond sec­re­tary Mo­hamad Razak Sabtu, and per­sonal as­sis­tant to the am­bas­sador Noor Saaidah Ja­maludin.

How­ever, it could not be de­ter­mined which of the three had left Py­ongyang as Nir­mala, who is sin­gle, said only three of them were there.

Also at the em­bassy were the spouses of the other two of­fi­cials, and their four chil­dren, aged be­tween 8 months and 7.

Malaysian am­bas­sador to North Korea Mo­hamad Nizan Mo­hamad re­turned to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22 af­ter he was re­called for con­sul­ta­tions over the diplo­matic row, which fol­lowed the mur­der of Kim Jongnam, the ex­iled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jongun, at klia2 on Feb 13.

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