KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian leaders, including the prime minister, have said they will not allow North Korea to insult the sovereignty of the nation.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in condemning “insulting statements” by North Korean officials, said they should respect Malaysia’s sovereignty.
“Anyone who comes here, must respect us. If they made baseless accusations, they should rightfully apologise and take back what they said. But they didn’t do that, so we have taken action to declare the person as persona non grata,” he said, referring to North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol.
He added that this reflects the fact that Malaysia is strict when it comes to the nation’s honour and sovereignty.
“No one can insult us or look down on us,” he said when met outside the Parliament lobby on Monday.
Najib was responding to allegations by Kang, and Pyongyang itself, that Malaysia was conspiring with South Korea in relation to the death of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Feb 13.
On March 4, Wisma Putra issued a statement declaring Kang as persona non grata (person not appreciated) and gave him 48 hours to leave the country. That deadline expires at about 6pm this evening.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the ambassador’s accusations, and Kang failed to show up at Wisma Putra despite being summoned to do so.
Asked about diplomatic ties with North Korea, Najib said “one step at a time.”
As for an official apology from North Korea, he said, “Well, we are not getting anything and are not expecting anything.”
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein echoed Najib’s views, describing the statements issued by Kang as “rude.”
“Perhaps he (Kang) sees it as his responsibility to North Korea’s leadership, but we make decisions based on our sovereignty and our country’s laws,” he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said these accusations have affected the relationship between the two countries.
“We have already said it clearly, we will wait for the next course (of action). Let us not pre-empt what is going to happen,” he said.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Malaysia would be cancelling North Korea’s visa-free entry to Malaysia, citing “national security reasons.”
Jong-nam was killed after two women splashed a chemical on his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) departure hall on Feb 13.
The two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, have since been charged with the murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.