Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in­tact de­spite tense diplo­matic sit­u­a­tion, says Hisham

New Straits Times - - News - HALIM SAID MUAR news@nst.com.my

THE diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship be­tween North Korea and Malaysia may be tense but not to the point of waging war, said De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Hus­sein.

He said the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween both coun­tries was in­tact even af­ter the turn of events re­lated to Kim Jong­nam’s mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He said the Malaysian gov­ern­ment had not re­ceived any re­ports about the sit­u­a­tion es­ca­lat­ing to some­thing akin to a war.

“As de­fence min­is­ter, I would be in­formed in ad­vance about such mat­ters. So far, there have been no re­ports that can raise any alarm be­tween us and North Korea.

“I be­lieve the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries has reached a tense point, but we are far from waging war with one an­other,” he said af­ter open­ing the Muar Umno di­vi­sion meet­ing and hand­ing over kits for the party’s 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion prepa­ra­tions at the di­vi­sion’s head­quar­ters here yesterday.

Present was Muar Umno di­vi­sion chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim.

Hisham­mud­din, who is also a Umno vice-pres­i­dent, said the tense diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship be­tween both coun­tries had been ag­gra­vated by the spread of the­o­ries sur­round­ing Jong­nam’s mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the fact that those opin­ions were de­bated openly.

“Nonethe­less, the cab­i­net agreed that our main fo­cus would be to en­sure the safety of Malaysians who are barred from leav­ing North Korea, and to en­sure there is trans­parency in the mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

On an­other mat­ter, Hisham­mud­din re­futed claims that the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a real es­tate scan­dal in Jo­hor has eroded the peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in the Barisan Na­sional-led state gov­ern­ment.

“It’s the other way around, ac­tu­ally. The gov­ern­ment is up­hold­ing the rule of law and reg­u­la­tions and this shows that no­body is above the law, whether friend or foe,” he said, re­fer­ring to the ar­rest of Jo­hor state ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi in con­nec­tion with the case.

Hisham­mud­din urged the peo­ple not to spec­u­late on the mat­ter as the MACC in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on­go­ing.

He said the exco mem­ber should not be per­se­cuted through a trial by the me­dia.

“It’s truly a sad thing per­son­ally for me as the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil­lor who is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated is a good friend.

“To al­low MACC to carry out the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will do justice not only to him but also every­one else in de­ter­min­ing who the cul­prit is be­hind the cor­rup­tion case.”

Hisham­mud­din urged Umno mem­bers to re­in­force their spirit of ca­ma­raderie among BN com­po­nent party mem­bers as it would be the win­ning for­mula in the next gen­eral elec­tion.

“This is not a one-party fight to the end.

“With the strength of our broth­ers and sis­ters in BN com­po­nent par­ties, Umno will be able to wrest the seats it lost in the last gen­eral elec­tion.”

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