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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mr PM, the buck for N Korea imbroglio stops with you

Judging from media reports, there is growing public concern over the government’s handling of the case of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the supreme leader of North Korea, almost a month ago.
Since the assassination, there has been an unending news flow of unsolicited, provocative, confusing and even conflicting statements from many ministers. One couldn’t be blamed for saying that there is hardly any coordination between the various agencies involved in the investigation.
The decision to expel the North Korean ambassador while our diplomats were still in Pyongyang appears to be both impulsive and ill-prepared. Did the government not take into account that provocative statements threatening to arrest North Korean diplomats might also endanger the safety of our own diplomats in Pyongyang?
Much to the angst and chagrin of the rakyat, Malaysia is once again in the international media spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
For the sake of our credibility and for the safety of our people in Pyongyang, the prime minister must now take steps to stop all these conflicting and confusing statements coming from different cabinet ministers. It is not helpful in resolving the situation.
Now is certainly not the time for Umno-BN ministers to be thumping their chests or politicising the whole issue for political gain.
Let it be stated in no unequivocal terms that no one is asking Putrajaya to pander to the North Koreans. The police have done their job of investigating the assassination according to standard operational procedures and court cases are now pending.
What is critically important at this stage is to get our people home as quickly as possible through negotiations and quiet diplomacy. In the meantime, our ministers should not make things harder for Wisma Putra by making all sort of confusing and provocative public statements.

The public also are demanding that the prime minister clearly state what steps are being taken to bring our diplomats safely home as quickly as possible. Once our people are safely home, we can discuss in greater depth the future of our relations with North Korea.

DZULKEFLY AHMAD is strategy director of Parti Amanah Negara and former Kuala Selangor MP.- Mkini

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