GOVT TO DEPORT 50 NORTH KOREANS
North Koreans with valid work permits will not be deported, says DPM
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THE government has decided to deport 50 North Koreans detained for working in Sarawak after their permits had expired.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday he would inform Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg of the decision.
“This decision to deport the North Koreans was made in line with the rules that have been set. (The North Koreans) are now being held at a temporary detention depot in Sarawak.
“After the documentation (process) is completed, we will begin the deportation,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
Zahid, who is also home minister, said the Sarawak government needed to be informed of the decision, as Immigration laws in the state differed from the Federal Immigration Act.
He said North Koreans whose work permits were still valid would not be deported, and that negotiations with North Korea were ongoing to allow the remaining nine Malaysians in Pyongyang to return.
Zahid said a total of 315 North Korean citizens were residing in the country, adding that there were 191 in the country under the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
There are about 170 North Koreans in Sarawak, mainly specialised workers at a coal mine and a hydro project.
This decision to deport the North Koreans was made in line with the rules that have been set. (The North Koreans) are now being held at a temporary detention depot in Sarawak.
DATUK SERI DR AHMAD ZAHID HAMIDI
Deputy prime minister
The issue of North Korean workers came to light following strained ties between Malaysia and North Korea over investigations into the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged halfbrother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Pyongyang had criticised Malaysia’s handling of the investigation and had accused it of being part of a conspiracy against North Korea.
The diplomatic row escalated on March 7 when North Korea barred all 11 Malaysians there from leaving the country.
Two of them, Stella Lim and Nyanaprakash Muniandy, managed to leave the country as they were registered under the United Nations World Food Programme. They made their way to Beijing on March 9.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says 315 North Koreans reside in the country.