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Foreign countries cutting ties with Malaysia not new : analysts

Kuala Lumpur – The issue of foreign countries severing ties with Malaysia, as North Korea did last week, is not the first incident of its kind in the history of the country’s diplomatic relations.

Lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah and Law of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli, said Indonesia, Pakistan and South Africa had done so for a while before resuming ties with Malaysia, and that it is likely that diplomatic relations between Malaysia and North Korea will resume in the future when the situation is more conducive.

Indonesia severed its diplomatic relations with Malaysia as a result of a confrontation in 1963, while Pakistan took similar action in 1965 following the stand taken by Malaysia’s representatives at the United Nations Security Council regarding the Indo-Pakistani war on Kashmir. Now, Malaysia has close relationships with the two countries.

“With South Africa, our relations were tense due to the issue of apartheid, but it improved in 1993.

“We already have problems with North Korea in 2017 following the murder case of Kim Jong-nam, who is the half-brother of Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. After that, we have tried to restore relations between the two countries; that’s why their representatives are still here before it is severed again (recently),” he said when contacted by Bernama on Monday.

Geostrategy expert Prof Dr Azmi Hassan also agreed that relations between the two countries can be restored, but opined that the move would be initiated by North Korea and not Malaysia.

“We (Malaysia) are always open to negotiations, but it is North Korea that needs Malaysia more, because we are one of the 160 countries that have ties with them.

“North Korea needs relations with Malaysia because Malaysia is considered a neutral country, and this (relations) is to show the world that a neutral country also recognises North Korea,” he said.

He added that North Korea’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia will not have any significant impact on the country as the two countries’ ties in terms of economy or people-to-people relations are not close.

On Malaysia’s action to order North Korean Embassy officials to leave the country, Azmi described it as a stern but appropriate response by Wisma Putra (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

“It is to show North Korea not to take us for granted because we can act in this matter. We also cannot forget the detention of the nine Malaysian Embassy staff in Pyongyang for two weeks after the incident of Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in the country in 2017.”

Malaysia-North Korea relations began in early 1973 and have seen impressive achievements in diplomacy and trade, right up to Jong-nam’s assassination at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in 2017.

Following the incident, Malaysia recalled its ambassador and ceased the embassy’s operations in Pyongyang, while North Korean Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur Kang Chol was expelled for his provocative remarks.

On Friday, North Korea announced it would end diplomatic relations with Malaysia following the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to reject the appeal of North Korean businessman Mun Chol Myong from being extradited to the United States on money laundering charges.

Malaysia responded the same day by saying it regretted North Korea’s decision and issued an order for all diplomatic staff and their dependents at its embassy in Kuala Lumpur to leave the country within 48 hours. — Bernama

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