MPs UNITE OVER DIPLO­MATIC ROW

Law­mak­ers from both sides sup­port govt’s ef­forts to defuse diplo­matic ten­sion with N. Korea

New Straits Times - - News - ADRIAN LAI KUALA LUMPUR adri­an­lai@nst.com.my

THE diplo­matic row be­tween Malaysia and North Korea over the mur­der of Kim Jong­nam took cen­tre stage dur­ing the De­wan Rakyat’s first meet­ing this week.

De­spite their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, mem­bers of par­lia­ment from across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide were united in de­fend­ing the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to defuse the diplo­matic ten­sion with the reclu­sive com­mu­nist regime.

Be­sides sup­port­ing the gov­ern­ment’s move in bar­ring 1,000 North Kore­ans from leav­ing the coun­try, sev­eral law­mak­ers also stressed the need to bring home safely the Malaysian em­bassy staff in Py­ongyang.

Datuk Abdul Rah­man Mo­hamad (BN-Lipis) pro­posed that the gov­ern­ment use dis­creet chan­nels in dis­cus­sions with North Korea to re­solve the is­sue, while Liew Chin Tong (DAP-Klu­ang) sug­gested that the house move a mo­tion on the is­sue to be de­bated.

Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Ba­gan) went as far as urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to sever diplo­matic ties with the her­mit king­dom, but Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak made it clear that ties be­tween the two na­tions would be main­tained.

On Wed­nes­day, Na­jib told re­porters at the Par­lia­ment lobby that Malaysia’s im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity was to en­sure the safety of the 11 Malaysians in North Korea, and that any ne­go­ti­a­tions would be held be­hind closed doors.

Home Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi, in a writ­ten re­ply, said the gov­ern­ment did not have a registry of for­eign spies op­er­at­ing in the coun­try as these op­er­a­tives would not an­nounce their pres­ence.

“The Home Min­istry and po­lice do not have in­for­ma­tion on the num­ber of for­eign spies in the coun­try as no for­eign coun­try would de­clare their agents to the au­thor­i­ties here.”

Also in the spotlight at the lower house was Trans­port Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who de­liv­ered a spe­cial brief­ing to par­lia­men­tar­i­ans on the third an­niver­sary of the dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH370.

De­spite the lack of fresh data and the sus­pen­sion of search ef­forts, Liow on Wed­nes­day said the gov­ern­ment re­mained com­mit­ted to un­rav­el­ling the mys­tery be­hind tragedy.

A minute of si­lence was ob­served at the end of his speech.

This week’s Par­lia­ment meet­ing saw Parti Pribumi Ber­satu Malaysia (PPBM) chair­man Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad on the re­ceiv­ing end of com­ments from Pas, which PPBM is woo­ing.

Nik Ab­duh Nik Aziz (Pas-Pasir Mas) was also un­re­served with his views on Dr Ma­hathir, say­ing that un­der the lat­ter’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, so­cial ills like cor­rup­tion took place in the coun­try.

On Mon­day, the first meet­ing of the fifth term of the 13th par­lia­men­tary ses­sion kicked off in earnest when Yang di-Per­tuan Agong Sul­tan Muham­mad V de­liv­ered his royal ad­dress in Par­lia­ment, in­volv­ing De­wan Rakyat and De­wan Ne­gara mem­bers.

The speech saw His Majesty ex­press­ing his dis­ap­point­ment with fraud, cor­rup­tion and the dis­clo­sure of clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment in­for­ma­tion by serv­ing and for­mer pub­lic of­fi­cials.

Half­way through his speech at the De­wan Rakyat, the king spoke on the need for the peo­ple to take care of their health and live a healthy life­style as his voice ap­peared to wa­ver slightly.

He reached out for his bot­tle of wa­ter and, with a smile, twisted the cap and said into the mi­cro­phone: “Ke­jap. Minum air ke­jap.”

(Hold on. Let me drink wa­ter.)

Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans smiled and nod­ded as the king ex­claimed “Ahh...” af­ter drink­ing the wa­ter.

His Majesty’s ges­ture has since gone vi­ral.

The first meet­ing of the fifth term of the 13th Par­lia­ment ses­sion will run un­til April 6.

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai

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