By POOK AH LEK
Sin Chew Daily
News of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, shocks the world and once again puts the country in international limelight.
International media shift their attention to this country again after the tragic disappearance of MH370, as evidenced by over 200 local and foreign journalists at the deputy IGP's press conference.
The death of Kim Jong-nam has ticked a sensitive nerve on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang has wanted to hide the actual cause of Kim's death from the global community, and has done everything it could to stop our police from carrying out a post-mortem on Kim's body.
North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol insisted that the deceased was not Kim Jong-nam, and alleged the Malaysian police of concealing the truth. He later accused the country of colluding with South Korea for the benefit of the latter.
Kang also requested to join in the police investigation, or Pyongyang would not accept the outcome of investigation carried out by the Malaysian police.
Kang's accusations constitute a major insult to our country. Wisma Putra has on two separate occasions summoned him for an explanation. His allegations were subsequently rebutted by foreign minister Anifah Aman, who also recalled our ambassador to Pyongyang for "consultation".
Some say North Korea is an autocratic regime. If Kang were to mishandle this case, he could very well be recalled and executed at home.
Malaysia is the only country to have the rare privilege of enjoying visa exemption for entering North Korea. Nevertheless, all that we know about this reclusive state is probably its continuous pursuit of nuclear weapons. Despite condemnation of the international community and a new round of sanctions imposed by the UN, Pyongyang remains unbending.
Owing to the special background of the deceased, the police have so far kept a tight lip about the whole investigation process. Foreign journalists have to take turns waiting outside the police headquarters, HKL, airport, North Korean embassy and a number of other locations to secure up-to-the-minute first-hand news. Their first relief came on Sunday with an international press conference at Bukit Aman.
Journalists from South Korea are the most aggressive. They have attempted to storm the North Korean embassy on a few occasions. They may have forgotten that embassy premises enjoy extraterritorial status of the represented state, and any violation of the same could be sanctioned under the laws.
Local newspapers have had their own ways of covering this case, and this to a large extent depends on the interpersonal relations of individual reporters and their connections. They have to be very patient, ready to brave all the hardships and challenges in order to grasp the latest information.
From fragmented news reports, photo images and leaked videos, we could more or less put things together into a more complete picture of how it actually happened on that fateful day. Following the briefings by the IGP and his deputy, the picture appears to be much clearer now.
Indeed, the death of Kim Jong-nam has been the work of North Korean agents that probably include also the embassy's second secretary and an Air Koryo employee, who were spotted at the crime scene. The other five suspects are still at large, four having fled the country on the same day.
Reporters today are very lucky, as they have the privilege of covering several landmark incidents of global significance in a short span of three years, although most of them are not what we have hoped for.
Whenever a high-profile incident like this happens, reporters hope they can be picked by their supervisors to cover them. No one wants to miss the excitement and that sense of accomplishment for being left behind.
Kim Jong-nam's assassination is like a suspenseful Korean spy movie that is expected to take quite some time before all the truths eventually come to light.
How did the North Korean agents manage to infiltrate into this country and carry out their killing plan? Why Malaysia? Were the police tipped of any information prior to this? We are still waiting for the police to clear our doubts on these queries.