Malaysia-North Korea impasse: Don’t resort to tit for tat

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Police cordon outside the North Korean embassy in Malaysia - Photograph: Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail

We must at all times show that we are a country of civilised people following international norms and remain respectful of the visitors to our country, says Wishful Accountant.

The unfolding drama caused by the regime in North Korea is a timely reminder that Malaysia should not have had any dealings with regimes run by despots, especially those who do not value the lives of their own citizens.

We somehow escaped repercussions when dealing with Mugabe of Zimbabwe, but our lack of foresight in allowing North Koreans to roam free into Malaysia and allegedly facilitating UN sanction-busting activities have come back to bite us now big time.

It is doubtful that many in Malaysia were aware of our full diplomatic relationship with North Korea and visa-free movement for its nationals, a benefit which we don’t extend to our friends from China and even India.

We should never have had diplomatic relations with them. Now they have shown their true colours by putting Malaysian citizens in jeopardy, not too unlike how extremists put the lives of others at stake at embassies in Iran and Libya in the past.

Yes, we should pursue our own foreign policy but surely this must be laced with scepticism when dealing with a regime that has used funds to build its nuclear arsenal even as reports claimed its people suffered from famine.

Time and time again, North Korea has shown zero respect for international norms. One day you are No 2 in North Korea and before you know it, you are executed by the regime of the No 1 despot, who is clueless how to manage a country.

This is a regime that celebrates its missile test launches in the run-up to major festivities.

Minister Nazri had already forewarned Malaysian citizens not to travel to North Korea after the KLIA2 alleged murder, but alas, none of us thought of bringing back all our citizens.

My heart goes out to those who have family members stuck in North Korea. We all know how anxious we get when our loved ones experience any delay in flight arrivals; what more being stuck in a country run by someone so unpredictable.

I wonder if surrounding the North Korea embassy in Malaysia with police is going to do any good; I am quite sure none of the lives of the North Koreans in Malaysia will mean anything to the Great Leader and his bunch or merry men in North Korea.

As history has shown, the regime in North Korea seems to think little of putting its citizens at risk of hunger.

Rightfully, the police cordon of the North Korean embassy in Malaysia should only be to protect the security of its occupants rather than to restrict the movements of embassy staff.

We must at all times show that we are a country of civilised people following international norms and remain respectful towards visitors in our country, irrespective of the dirty tricks their leaders may employ.

Tit for tat should not be our policy.

Wishful Accountant, who practises his trade, is a keen customer services and rights champion who spends his own time and resources chasing banks, utility providers, highway concessionaires and local councils on various public interest issues. Occasionally, he feels compelled to comment on political and social issues.

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