I AGREE Malaysians need to stand behind the government in their efforts to negotiate for the return of the nine Malaysians currently in North Korea, who are being denied the right to leave the country by the authorities.
For those who may be unfamiliar (although I can’t imagine who), this is an incident directly linked to the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
It is reported Jong Un has attempted to assassinate his brother before. So when about a month ago, two women were caught on CCTV camera allegedly killing Jong Nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, speculation was rife.
Two women – a Vietnamese and an Indonesian – were detained along with a Malaysian man and a North Korean man.
Another four North Koreans were believed to have left the country and two others in Malaysia are still wanted for questioning.
The Malaysian authorities claimed Jong Nam was killed by the VX nerve agent.
The North Koreans, who refuted this, said the Malaysians were in collusion with their enemies to bring them down.
They continue to claim the Malaysian investigation is flawed.
This resulted in Malaysia summoning and eventually expelling North Korean ambassador Kang Chol.
The North Korean government then blocked all Malaysians in the country from leaving and Malaysia retaliated with blocking exit for all North Koreans.
The North Korean government wants Jong Nam’s body to be returned to them. The Malaysian government, however, will only return the body to his next of kin.
As of today, none of Jong Nam’s family members has come forward to claim his body.
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As much as I agree Malaysians need to support the government in its efforts to bring back the stranded citizens home from North Korea, I also can’t help but think this could be the best thing that has happened to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration.
Najib, who has been plagued by corruption allegations due to the internationally infamous 1MDB scandal, could be making full use of the diversion that is the Jong Nam murder.
It isn’t something new. Politicians around the world take advantage of smokescreens in the media.
1MDB, in case people are starting to forget, is a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Allegations of mysterious funds and its misappropriation have been reported extensively in the media.
Najib has been linked to it because money was allegedly transferred to his personal account some years ago.
The international money trail for the scandal is extensive and several countries, such as Switzerland, Singapore and the US, have opened investigations into it.
Malaysia’s attorney-general’s office, however, has claimed no wrongdoing on Najib’s part.
In the most recent development, the Malaysian government has declined to cooperate and provide any information to the Swiss authorities.
In Singapore, a Swiss bank BSI executive has been convicted for his role in moving money related to 1MDB.
Late last year, the US Department of Justice released an extensive report on their 1MDB investigation.
They have frozen assets relating to several individuals, including that of Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz.
In Malaysia, one Cabinet minister, Shafie Apdal, and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, were sacked.
Parliament Speaker Pandikar Amin has declared any discussion of 1MDB is now off-limits in House.
But all the attention of the 1MDB scandal has died down and is being buried by the now more scandalous Jong Nam murder.
In all fairness, the Malaysian authorities have been doing an efficient job releasing information and handling the diplomatic row with North Korea.
But it is also a nice coincidence for Najib and the Malaysian government since he is now no longer in the spotlight for something he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight for.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Asian Correspondent