Malaysia tightens border security to prevent North Koreans from leaving

Malaysia tightens border security to prevent North Koreans from leaving

The Perlis, Kedah and Johor immigration departments have all tightened border controls after a directive was issued by Malaysia's Home Ministry.

KANGAR: The Perlis Immigration Department is stepping up monitoring at the Malaysia-Thai border to ensure that no North Koreans leave through the neighbouring country.

Its director Mohd Amir Othman said the measure was taken as per instructions received on Tuesday (Mar 7) from the Home Ministry.

The Padang Besar border crossing, the main route of entry and exit between Malaysia and Thailand in Perlis, is open from 6am to 10pm while the other one at Wang Kelian is open from 7am to 7pm.

Meanwhile, he said information circulating that the border crossing in Perlis is open 24 hours is false.

In Alor Setar, the Kedah Immigration Department is doing the same at the Kedah-Thailand border. Its director Zuhair Jamaludin said steps had been taken to tighten border controls as soon as the directive was issued.

Meanwhile, the Johor Immigration Department said that it will ensure that no North Korean citizens leave the country through the Johor-Singapore border. Its director Rohaizi Bahari said the move would be in force until there is a decision to the contrary from the government.

North Korea on Tuesday banned Malaysians from leaving the country. Malaysia responded in kind, closing its borders to North Koreans who wanted to leave. The strain in ties came following the murder of North Korean national Kim Chol, widely reported to be Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 on Feb 13.

Soon after North Korea announced its travel ban, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the move and said he was barring North Koreans from leaving the country.

"I have also instructed the Inspector-General of Police to prevent all North Korean citizens in Malaysia from leaving the country until we are assured of the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea," he said.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that Malaysia would not allow any officers and staff at the North Korean embassy here to leave the country, in a directive which came into force immediately.

Initially, Malaysian officials had said the ban would affect only North Korean Embassy staff and officials, but later expanded it to include all North Koreans.

Source: Bernama/hs