KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today condemned “in the strongest possible terms” North Korea’s decision to prevent Malaysian citizens from leaving the country.
“This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms,” he said in his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Najib said he had summoned an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and instructed the Inspector-General of Police to prevent all North Korean citizens in Malaysia from leaving the country “until we are assured of the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea”.
“Our hope is for a swift resolution. I call upon the North Korean leadership to immediately allow our citizens to leave to avoid any further escalation,” he said.
Najib said: “As a peace-loving nation, Malaysia is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries. However, protecting our citizens is my first priority, and we will not hesitate to take all measures necessary when they are threatened.”
China’s Xinhua news agency reported today that North Korea banned Malaysians in the country from leaving until the safety of its diplomats and citizens in Malaysia is fully guaranteed after settlement of the death case of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Malaysia had with immediate effect prohibited any officials and staff of the North Korean embassy here from leaving the country.
Zahid said the measure was in response to the North Korean stopping Malaysians from leaving that country.
North Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday that the country had designated the Malaysian ambassador to the country as “persona non grata” and directed him to leave the country within 48 hours from 10am on Sunday.
The report came as the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol was given 48 hours to leave the country after he failed to appear when summoned by Wisma Putra.
The envoy was expelled for failing to apologise for making claims that Malaysia was conspiring with South Korea in investigating the assassination of Kim Chol, widely reported to be Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the KL International Airport 2 on Feb 13.
Kang Chol left by a Malaysia Airlines flight to Beijing on Monday. – BERNAMA