PUTRAJAYA – The Youth and Sports Ministry has requested the Foreign Ministry to review the latest situation in North Korea and the need to issue a travel advisory on the country.
This followed fears raised by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim on the safety of Harimau Malaya playing in Pyongyang for the 2019 Asian Cup qualification on June 8.
Its minister, Khairy Jamaluddin (pix) said he had contacted Wisma Putra on the matter and a decision would be announced soon.
“A travel advisory is something serious and it should not be issued as it can affect the thawing bilateral relations.
“There are many things to be considered. The security of our people is a priority and it included our team if we have to go there. We will not compromise on the security of our people.
“At the same time, any decision made should not affect our bilateral relations. So give a little bit more time to review the latest position as so far there is no official advice which does not encourage Malaysians in the form of a travel advisory. AFC only recognises the official travel advisory of the government,” he said.
He told reporters after signing sponsorships for 29th SEA Games and the 9th Asean Para Games here today.
In this regard, Khairy said he respected the decision made by Tunku Ismail who voiced his disagreement to send the national team to Pyongyang for the match.
However, he declined to comment on the issue of treatment and accommodation as well as food raised by Tunku Ismail.
“We respect his decision based on the security factors. It is just that we as the government have to evaluate from various aspects,” he said.
On Monday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that Malaysia would face North Korea for the 2019 Asian Cup qualification in Pyongyang on June 8.
The decision was reached after FAM confirmed there was no travel restriction imposed by the government.
However, the president of FAM in a media statement today expressed his reservations on the safety of the national squad following tense diplomatic situation between North Korea and other countries.
The Malaysian squad was scheduled to face North Korea at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang on March 28 but the government prohibited the team from travelling there for security reasons.
This followed tense diplomatic relations between the two countries after the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at KL International Airport 2 (klia2) on Feb 13. – BERNAMA