Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador

North Korea's envoy to Malaysia Kang Chol is seen coming out of the embassy premises located in Damansara Heights, February 20, 2017. ― Bernama pic
North Korea's envoy to Malaysia Kang Chol is seen coming out of the embassy premises located in Damansara Heights, February 20, 2017. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Wisma Putra has declared North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol a “persona non grata” and has given him 48 hours from 6pm today to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Kang failed to show or send a representative when summoned to attend a meeting with Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, his ministry’s deputy secretary-general for bilateral affairs at 6pm today.

“For this reason, the Ministry has via a Diplomatic Note sent to the Embassy this evening, informing the DPRK government that His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol that the Malaysian government has declared him Persona Non Grata.

“He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6.00pm, 4 March 2017,” Anifah said in a statement.

The Latin term “persona non grata” literally means “person not appreciated” and is used to convey a government’s strongest disapproval for a foreigner, especially a diplomat, in its country.

Anifah said Malaysia’s decision was based on Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), which gave it the right to eject a foreign diplomat at any time and without having to explain its decision.

But he explained that Malaysia resorted to this action because Kang had issued strong defamatory remarks against his host country by suggesting Putrajaya “has colluded with outside powers” and sought to hide the truth in the February 13 death of the North Korean citizen — identified as “Kim Chol” on his passport but which the world has come to know as Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son and one-time heir to former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Anifah said the Malaysian government is concerned that outsiders may have used the country to conduct illegal activities.

The minister also revealed that Malaysia had given a chance for North Korea to issue a formal apology for its accusations on February 28 with a warning that the government would take measures to protect its interests, but none was given four days after the deadline passed.

He pointed out that Malaysia had returned North Korean Ri Jong-chol to Pyongyang despite the latter being a suspect in ongoing investigations into Jong-nam’s death.

He said this proved Malaysia practises the rule of law and had acted in a “an impartial, fair and transparent manner” throughout the whole case.

“It should be made clear — Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation,” Anifah said.

He added that these were part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations with North Korea, the first being the cancellation of the visa-free entry to the reclusive state’s citizens effective Monday.

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