Unanswered questions in Malaysia-North Korea tussle

The North Korean Embassy In Kuala Lumpur now barred by police. Photo: Musyrif Zayyan for The Independent

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The North Korean Embassy In Kuala Lumpur now barred by police. Photo: Musyrif Zayyan

The death of Kim Jung Nam had strained relationship between Malaysia and North Korea and this is most likely due to North Korea’s claims that it could not trust the ‘incompetence’ of the Malaysian police.

This statement by the North Korean ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Kang Chol spooked Malaysian officials.

They could not believe it that despite their good relations with North Korea, the ambassador went to such extent in degrading the country and its police force.

Of course, Malaysia claimed that their police is professional and that it is handling the investigation professionally.

A US human rights report on Malaysia tells a different story with regards to the treatment of offenders in police cells, and the abuse of rights of suspected criminals.

The US report said last year a human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) released handwritten accounts by seven suspected terrorists held under investigatory detention alleging maltreatment, including beatings, sexual humiliation, and forced confessions.

A North Korean man Ri Jong Chol was released from custody by Malaysia – possibly due to lack of evidence of his involvement in the killing of Kim Jong-nam and the fact that he could not be prosecuted – but once outside Malaysia he claimed he was mistreated and the police wanted to get a forced testimony from him.

He also claimed the police showed him pictures of his family as part of coercion tactics, which the police denied.

The game of accusations and denial has gone on for far too long in the investigation of the killing of Kim Jong-nam, to the point that North Korea at one point accused Malaysia of playing politics with the dead body.

It is altogether not easy to analyse the situation between both countries.

In December, North Korea organised an event in Kuala Lumpur during which it said it wanted to have better trade relationship with Malaysia.

The Matrade former CEO Dzulkifli Mahmud is quoted by local media saying bilateral trade between Malaysia and North Korea has grown over the years, involving mainly palm oil and chemical products.

In December, Matrade said Malaysia hoped to increase trade with North Korea.

Either they (North Koreans) wanted to divert attention with an event to promote more trade with Malaysia – diverting from what they were planning – that is the murder of Kim Jung Nam or the attack was ordered by others than North Korea?

One country has been very active in the ‘investigation’ of the attack and has today shared information with CNN claiming two North Korean hit teams stalked Kim Jong-nam, recruiting the Vietnamese and the Indonesian women to plan the attack.

That country is South Korea.

However, as usual, CNN did not give any further details of the supposed stalking – that is not CCTV footage of the suspected North Koreans and the Vietnamese or Indonesian women with the North Koreans at any time!

From my point of view, North Korea wanted to build better relations with Malaysia in December, but suddenly in Feburary the two countries were on the brink of a diplomatic tussle?

Malaysia should also listen to North Korea, they shouldn’t be spooked or get emotional in the face of critisism.

They must not forget the attack took place on Malaysian soil and they are answerable to this altogether.

The question is, why did they not attack the North Korean in Ho Chi Min, Singapore, Macau or other South East Asian places that he went to?

Police may seem to have evidence on who attacked the North Korean, and that the two women were trained by North Koreans, possibly those who are hiding in the embassy because obviously.

Furthermore, the police did not say whether the two women, the Vietnamese and the Indonesian gave out any names of the persons of interests who might have enggaged them to carry out the attack.

In the face of all these unknowns it is hard to decide whether North Korea did it or another country was a part of it?

Malaysia should widen the investigation and look into all aspects rather than answering North Korea with tit-for-tat actions!