KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Malaysia deeply regrets North Korea’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Malaysia, said the Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra).
“Malaysia denounces the decision as unfriendly and unconstructive, disrespecting the spirit of mutual respect and good neighborly relations among members of the international community,” said the ministry in a statement on Friday.
Malaysia is now compelled by the decision of the North Korean government to close the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang, which operation had already been suspended since 2017.
Wisma Putra also said the Malaysian government will issue an order for all the diplomatic staff and their dependents at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from today.
According to media reports, Pyongyang announced on Friday that it would sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a Malaysian court early this month ruled that a North Korean businessman could be extradited to the United States (US) to face money laundering charges.
North Korea’s unilateral decision is clearly unwarranted, disproportionate and certainly disruptive towards the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity of this region, the statement said.
Wisma Putra said Malaysia reserves its every right to respond to the decision by North Korea in order to protect its sovereignty and to safeguard its national interest.
“Malaysia believes that our stance on this unfortunate development will be fully appreciated and understood by our friends and partners who commit to the principles of justice, rule of law, as well as to peaceful coexistence among nations,” it said.
On North Korean businessman Mun Chol Myong, Wisma Putra explained that as a country which upholds the principles of justice, rule of law and independence of judiciary, Malaysia has ensured that his extradition was conducted in accordance with those principles.
On the same premise, it said Malaysia had to put aside a series of the North Korea’s demarches for the Malaysian executive to intervene in its judiciary and legal system.
“The extradition was only carried out after the due legal process had been exhausted,” the statement said.
Wisma Putra stressed that Mun’s rights while in custody in Malaysia were also guaranteed and fulfilled, including his access to his own defence counsel, as well as to consular assistance and visits by his family.
Mun was detained by the Malaysian authority on May 14, 2019, pursuant to the provisional arrest warrant issued under Section 13 (1) (b) of the Extradition Act 1992 following allegations of conspiracy to launder money and money laundering, as well as violating United Nations sanctions, said the statement.
“Such acts are also offences under the laws of Malaysia. He appeared before the Sessions Court of Kuala Lumpur on Dec 13, 2019 where the court allowed committal against him,” it added.
Mun’s application for the writ of habeas corpus at the High Court of Kuala Lumpur on Dec 29, 2019 and his appeal at the Federal Court on Oct 8, 2020 were dismissed, as the courts found that his application and appeal were unjustified and failed to meet the requirements under the aforementioned Extradition Act, said Wisma Putra.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein in his Twitter account on Friday said all Malaysia’s diplomatic staff and their dependents at the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang had returned home in 2017, after the embassy’s operations was suspended.
He was replying to a tweet that inquired on the safety of Malaysia’s diplomatic staff in Pyongyang.