We need to choose better friends

MARCH 8 — I remember when the government first announced it had secured visa-free access to North Korea for Malaysians.

At the time, I thought it was ridiculous. Why were we being chummy with a nation with a leadership that can be summarised in one word: mad? Sanity has long defected from North Korea, it seems.

North Korea’s leaders have ruled by perpetuating the cult of personality, subjugating its citizens to authoritarian rule while allowing its elites to enjoy excessive comforts and privileges.

The country’s citizens are all too familiar with famines, with just last year the government, through its print mouthpiece the Rodong Sinmun, advising its citizens to prepare for more famines.

Yet on my social media timelines I see quite a few Malaysians sighing about their dreams of visiting Pyongyang being dashed.

What part of North Korea’s leader being a murderous paranoid manchild did you not get? Why should anyone want to throw tourist dollars at a place where you could likely get arrested for taking unauthorised photos?

North Korea can’t even keep its citizens fed and yet squanders resources on missile tests, tests that have become even more frequent.

When the visa-free deal was first announced, instead of asking “Why does our government want to be BFFs with these a-holes?” we instead responded, “Yay, no need visa to visit!”

Now it’s all blown up spectacularly in our faces as North Korea is now holding our citizens to ransom.

How has our government overlooked the fact that North Korea plays by no rules but its own? That it thumbs its nose at the UN, makes constant veiled threats at its neighbour and has a leader who has no qualms executing his own family members on trumped up charges?

I hope that despite the odds we get our stranded Malaysians back from North Korea and in future, we learn to make better friends.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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