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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spies spies everywhere

We have seen a great deal of Double-O-Seven movies, and this could very much be the first ever real-life incident that we can get as close to spy movie plots as possible, right on this land.

The James Bond movies are rich in the elements of spying and assassinations that characterize many a secret agent, but for such things to take place in our vicinity and before our eyes is an unimaginable eye-opener.

The selection of klia2 as the site of such a dramatic killing has once again put Malaysia in global limelight after the tragic disappearance of MH370.

North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol has since made baseless and venomous allegations against the Malaysian government following the shocking assassination, denying that the deceased was Kim Jong-nam while accusing our government of colluding with South Korea. The reckless and slanderous statement by ambassador Kang does not seem to conform to acceptable etiquette we expect from all diplomats.

Dragging Malaysia into the decades-old feud between Pyongyang and its southern neighbor is hardly tolerable.

The two Koreas used to be one unified country until the end of World War II, but was subsequently split into two mutually antagonistic states owing to historical and war reasons. North of the 38th parallel is DPR Korea ruled by a reclusive communist regime. To its south is the Republic of Korea thriving on democratic and capitalistic ideologies.

Malaysians have maintained a close relationship with South Korea, and for so many years Korean movies, TV dramas and K-pop have taken Malaysia by storm, commanding a huge following here. The Korean culture that has infiltrated much of Asia and the world has energized the country's tourism, beauty and F&B industries.

This to a certain extent has been the outcome of the Korean government's soft diplomacy in an attempt to flex the country's external influences through popular culture. Indeed, such a policy has paid off very well.

Meanwhile, Malaysians know very little about North Korea other than its unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un and the ballistic missiles he fires every now and then. These aside, what we can make out of this hermit country has been largely void or obscured.

The killing of Kim Jong-nam has at least opened our eyes to the outright merciless power struggle in the country's hereditary regime, and the reality of the omnipresence and atrociousness of its secret agents.

As a matter of fact, spooky agents have been operating out of public view in many countries for decades. In the 1950s, spies abounded on both sides of the Straits of Taiwan following the relocation of the Chinese Nationalist government to Taiwan.

Spying across the 38th parallel remains very much alive to this day, and each operation is marked by steep hostility and unwarranted sacrifices.

And it is not the first time toxic fluid and poisoned needles have been employed.

Yi Han-yong, a nephew of Kim Jong-il and cousin of Kim Jong-nam, defected to the South in 1982, but was fatally jabbed with a poisoned needle 15 years later in a Seoul suburb.

In 2011, a North Korean agent was arrested by the South Korean authorities for attempting to assassinate defector cum social activist Park Sang-Ha, also with a poisoned needle.

The world is still searching for the answer as to who killed Kim Jong-nam. But to us, the fact that the agents were able to roam freely inside our airport, walking past us in the most unsuspecting way but were completely inhuman when it comes to carrying out their killing plan, is hair-raising.

By Tan Poh Kheng, Sin Chew Daily

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