Malaysians from Pyongyang to arrive today, says Najib
PUTRAJAYA: The long wait for the return of the nine Malaysians who were barred from leaving North Korea is finally over.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday said the government had worked intensively behind the scenes and overcame “many challenges” to ensure the safe return of the Malaysians.
Najib said they were scheduled to land at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 5am today.
“Alhamdulillah, they took off from Pyongyang today (yesterday) at 7.45pm Malaysian time, and will land in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow (today) around 5am.
“I would like to thank those in the Malaysian government involved in the negotiations, led by our Foreign Ministry.
“I had a deep personal concern about this matter, and we worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome. The safety and security of our citizens will always be my first priority,” said Najib in a statement.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman is scheduled to welcome the nine Malaysians at the Bunga Raya Complex in KLIA.
With the latest development, the prime minister said, Malaysia would allow North Koreans in the country to leave.
Najib said following the completion of the autopsy on Kim Jong-nam’s body, and the receipt of a letter from the latter’s family requesting his remains to be returned to North Korea, the coroner had approved the release of the body.
“The government believes strongly in the principles of justice and sovereignty. Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue. I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice.
“As prime minister, I am grateful that all Malaysians united to overcome this crisis in the spirit of Negaraku. It shows what can be achieved for the nation if we work together as one,” he said.
Jong-nam was attacked at klia2 on Feb 13 by two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who wiped the VX nerve agent on his face.
He died en route to the hospital. Both women were arrested shortly after the murder.
Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and North Korea began to sour and on Feb 20, North Korean ambassador Kang Chol was quoted as saying that Pyongyang could not trust the results of the post-mortem conducted on Jong-nam.
He had also accused Malaysia of being in collusion with South Korea.
Malaysia subsequently dropped the visa-free status of North Koreans in Malaysia on March 2, a day after both the women were charged with Jongnam’s murder.
The situation escalated when Malaysia expelled Kang Chol on March 6, which prompted Pyongyang to stop Malaysian citizens from leaving North Korea.
Malaysia responded with similar ban on March, preventing all North Koreans in the country from leaving Malaysia.