Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has urged all quarters, including the opposition, to be united in supporting the efforts to resolve the crisis with North Korea.
He said the strength of a nation is measured by the unity of its people when faced with external threats.
“If we are united in confronting any form of problem or threat, enemies cannot demolish all that we have built,” he added in a speech, which was published on his blog.
At present, Najib said the government is working on ensuring the safe return of Malaysians who have been barred from leaving North Korea amid a diplomatic row between the two nations.
“I wish to call on all Malaysians, including government and opposition leaders, to be united in providing full support to the efforts undertaken to resolve this quagmire,” he added.
Citing the MH370 and MH17 incidents as well as the Lahad Datu incursion, the prime minister said this is not the first time Malaysia has been confronted with a crisis.
He said these episodes proved that Malaysia is experienced in handling complicated matters involving foreign powers.
“God willing, we have been given guidance by Allah once again in order to bring back the Malaysians in North Korea and to unravel all the questions related to the murder which took place on our soil.
“Malaysia has always safeguarded its good ties with all nations. However, this does not mean they can abuse our goodwill and violate our laws and act according to their whims without respecting Malaysia as a sovereign nation,” he added.
Yesterday, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also emphasised on the need to be united at this juncture.
“Let us show a united front now. After they (the Malaysians in North Korea) have returned home, we can do a post-mortem (on the Malaysian government’s handling of the crisis),” he said.
However, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia was not adept at handling such situations due to its inexperience, and cautioned against making North Korea an enemy.
He also claimed that under the current administration, there has been a shift in foreign policy as opposed to the past when Malaysia maintained a non-aligned stand and established good ties with all countries, regardless of their policies or ideologies.
“Now, there is a slight policy difference. We are closer to some countries, and this curtails our freedom,” he said.
Two of the 11 Malaysians in North Korea had returned last night. The two are United Nations employees involved in the World Food Programme.
The remaining Malaysians include embassy staff and their families.
Ties between Malaysia and North Korea became strained following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA 2) on Feb 13.
Police have charged two women, an Indonesian and Vietnamese national, over the murder.
The two were accused of smearing the deceased’s face with VX nerve agent at the airport while he waited to board a flight to Macau.
North Korea has accused Malaysia of fabricating evidence and colluding with outside forces, allegations which led to the expulsion of its ambassador.
Following Tuesday’s travel ban imposed on Malaysians in North Korea, Najib ordered that a similar restriction be slapped on North Koreans in Malaysia.
He also described North Korea’s move as tantamount to holding the Malaysians hostage.