After Pyongyang temporarily banned all Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country, the Malaysian government decided to fight fire with fire and prohibited North Korean Embassy staff members from leaving Malaysia.
The Korea Central News Agency announced a statement today, citing the foreign ministry.
“All Malaysian nationals in the DPRK will be temporarily prohibited from leaving the country until the incident that happened in Malaysia is properly solved,”
It was recently reported that Malaysians currently in North Korea were not aware of the ban as there was no news of it in Pyonyang.
This ban came in the midst of investigations surrounding the highly publicised murder of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, last month.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi addressed the ban in an emergency press conference earlier today, stating, “We don’t mean to do this, but it needs to be done.”
“The Home Ministry has made a ruling, effective immediately, that not one staff member or officer of the (North Korean) embassy can leave the country.
“This will be made effective at all immigration exits nationwide.”
At first, Datuk Zahid clarified that this travel ban only applies to North Korean diplomatic officials and does not affect ordinary citizens of North Korea.
But later, a statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak appears to suggest that this ban does indeed affect all North Koreans in Malaysia.
He addressed this situation by stating that he wanted to prevent all North Korean citizens in Malaysia from leaving the country until the safety of Malaysians in North Korea is ensured. Basically hostage for hostage lah.
“This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms.”
Al-Jazeera News reported that there are currently 11 Malaysians in North Korea, 3 of them working at the Malaysian embassy, 2 of them United Nations officials, and 6 of them family members.
The Prime Minister stated that he would need to check on the exact number of Malaysians currently in North Korea and would discuss Malaysia’s bilateral ties with North Korea at this Friday’s Cabinet meeting.