coup de maître

Many would have thought that President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte of the Philippines as a difficult man to come to a deal with.

When the President visited Malaysia last November, there were five Malaysians being held captive by bandits in the south of the Republic as a result of Kidnap-for-Ransom incidents.

Many criticised Najib Razak’s joining in Duterte’s karaoke diplomacy but as a seasoned diplomat and a leader Najib knew that it was Duterte’s way of asking him to loosen up before concluding business.

As a result, Duterte himself oversaw the rescue efforts and as a result the five Malaysians held as hostages were returned to their families.


Last night, as a result of another masterstroke conjured by both Najib Razak and another seasoned and internationally-respected diplomat Anifah Aman who worked behind the scene to secure the release of Malaysians held in Pyongyang since 7 March 2017.

The RMAF Global Express jet upon arrival

This morning a Royal Malaysian Air Force Global Express jet arrived in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian embassy staff as well as their family members.

Anifah Aman was there waiting.

Anifah Aman with family members of the Malaysian embassy staff waiting at the airport

Speaking later to reporters Anifah said that the efforts to bring back the Malaysians showcases diplomacy at its best.

“There can be no substitute for diplomacy, for level-headedness in dealing with such situations, and this has served Malaysia well in this instance,” said the Foreign Minister.

He thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for placing his trust in the Foreign Ministry to lead negotiations with North Korea.


There is no substitute for level-headedness and skillful diplomacy, and definitely no substitute for a great leadership and solid friendship that delivers each time.

Sever The Ties

Kang Chol without his Jaguar
Kang Chol without his Jaguar if he is not an Ambassador – photo courtesy of Eric Lafforgue

VX is an extremely toxic substance which has no other use except as a chemical warfare nerve agent. Whoever is exposed to the agent must wash off the agent using household bleach and lots of water, and should immediately be given diazepam, atropine and pralidoxime intramuscular injections.

For the VX nerve agent to be transported safely to KLIA2 for the attack, it would have to be in a binary form, mixed during the attack itself.

Kim Jong Nam would have died painfully from asphyxiation after suffering violent muscular contractions and diaphragm muscle paralysis.

The above is the most plausible reason for Kang Chol to have pre-empted everything by attacking the Royal Malaysian Police’s and Ministry of Health’s credibility even before the autopsy is completed.

The above would also underscore the fact that the two women from Indonesia and Vietnam are not innocent as claimed.  They were seen immediately rushing off to the nearest restroom facility after the attack to wash off traces of the agent from their hands.

Malaysis has signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention that came into effect in 1997, and also the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare or commonly known as the Geneva Protocol.

The use of a chemical weapon on Malaysian soil, as well as the rude outbursts by the Ambassador of North Korea to Malaysia shows North Korea’s blatant disregard for Malaysian laws and breached Article 41(1) of the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

Malaysia exported RM17.54 million worth of goods (mainly palm oil, rubber and medical products) to North Korea while importing only RM5.18 million (iron and steel products) from the hermit state in 2015. There are 300 North Koreans working in the coal mines of Sarawak.

As the only country in the world to have been accorded a visa-free status by North Korea, very few Malaysians have ever made use of the facility.

While Malaysia is a country that warms up to every country and values its friendship, the same cannot be said about North Korea.

Myanmar’s diplomatic relations with North Korea was once far more meaningful than the one currently enjoyed by Malaysia.  However, in trying to assassinate the then-South Korean President, North Korea pushed diplomacy aside and planted a bomb in Yangon in 1983 which killed 20 people but did not kill President Chun Doo Hwan.

Myanmar broke off diplomatic relations for a decade following the attack on its soil.

Now, it has caused anger to the country it courted in 1973 and established formal diplomatic relations in 1993.  There is no telling what North Korea is capable of doing to or in Malaysia given its disrespect for the laws and regulations of the latter.

I doubt that we would lose much if we were to sever our diplomatic ties with North Korea.  Our trade volume is only RM25 million.  Even Perlis as the smallest state in Malaysia made RM88.3 billion in GSP in 2015!

North Korea is no friend and has never valued any friendship.  It should be left to live and die alone.

The Folly That Kan Cheong Is

KAN CHEONG

The word is both Cantonese and Hokkien meaning nervous, harried or uptight.  It also sounds very much like the name of the rudesby North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol.

kancheong

First, let me share what the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Anifah Aman, had to say about Mr Kan Cheong:

 

PRESS STATEMENT
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia

YB DATO’ SRI ANIFAH HAJI AMAN, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY H.E. AMBASSADOR OF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S
REPUBLIC OF KOREA TO MALAYSIA
RELATING TO THE DEATH OF ITS CITIZEN IN MALAYSIA

1. On 20 February 2017, the Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Malaysia issued a Press Release. The Press Release contains a list of allegations related to the investigation surrounding the death of a DPRK citizen which occurred on 13 February 2017. 

2. These allegations, culled from delusions, lies and half-truths, are the basis from which the Ambassador concluded that “there could be someone else’s hand behind the investigation”, and that the “investigation by the Malaysian police is not for the clarification of the cause of the death and search of the suspect, but it is out of the political aim”.

3. When the Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on 20 February 2017, it was emphasised by the Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs that the police investigation has been done impartially without fear or favour. It was also conducted in compliance with Malaysian laws and regulations.

4. Any suggestion to the contrary is deeply insulting to Malaysia, as is the suggestion that Malaysia is in collusion with any foreign government.

5. This police investigation has been based on, and will also pursue, all leads available, including leads which go beyond, or not related to, the information provided by embassies and other entities.

6. In all civilised nations, it is the norm for cases such as these to be comprehensively investigated. It is the responsibility of the government to do so. The public also rightly demands it. It is for this reason that information has been made public as and when needed.

7. It is also customary for embassies to cooperate fully with the host government in order to ensure that the investigation is as thorough as possible, and not to impugn the credibility of the investigation.

Minister of Foreign Affairs
PUTRAJAYA
20 February 2017

Earlier, Mr Kan Cheong said to reporters, “We cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police.”  Those are big words coming from an Ambassador of a country that has carried out extra-territorial assassinations of not just its dissident citizens but also of foreign citizens.

It is the Malaysian law as it is in most other civilised nations that sudden death victims to undergo a necropsy to ascertain the cause of death.

North Korea had strongly objected to Malaysia’s decision to conduct a postmortem on Kim Jong Nam, and then went on a public tirade when it emerged it was inconclusive and that a second postmortem would be needed.

Only a court order for a second necropsy.  Neither has the family of the deceased filed for one nor has the pathologist seen the need for one.

In order for the body to be released, family members with matching DNA, if required, need to be present to receive the body.  If Kan Cheong does not understand the requirements of the Malaysian legal system then he is not fit to become an Ambassador. Kan Cheong is here to replace former North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, who was recalled and sentenced to death for being the son of Jang Song-thaek, an uncle to Great Ignominious Leader, Kim Jong Un.  The uncle was also executed by firing squad and his body was later fed to dogs.

If Kan Cheong has any brain or international relations training (if mentally-capable) at all, the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations of 1961 states in Article 41 (1) that without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the Receiving State, which in this case is Malaysia.

All official businesses with Malaysia shall be conducted with or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia or such other ministry as may be agreed.  It means that MOFA has to be consulted beforehand, and Mr Kan Cheong as well as other agents of the Dismally Pathetically Repulsive Korea (DPRK) cannot just barge into a mortuary and disrupt the process of the law in this country.  This is stated in Article 41 (2) of the said Convention.

If I were the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I would immediately inform the DPRK that Mr Kan Cheong is a persona non grata without having to give any reason.  This is the right given to Malaysia as the Receiving State in Article 9 (1) of the same Convention.

If the DPRK is serious about having a cordial and beneficial relationship with Malaysia, it should send another Ambassador for Malaysia to receive and take Mr Kan Cheong back.

This would be the best option for Malaysia to stop this Kan Cheong nonsense.

This is also probably why Kan Cheong is doing his best to make Malaysia a scapegoat and a diversion from the actual path the investigation is taking.  If Malaysia decides to declare him a persona non grata Great Ignominious Leader Kim Jong Un would be extremely displeased with him and his family, parents, cousins, uncles, aunties and dogs that they would all be tied to the next nuclear weapon the demented Great Leader decides to test.

Hopefully Kim Jong Number Un would upload a video on YouTube as well.

Ji-ral-Ha-Ne (지랄하네)

Paradise Won

A flight of B-52 bombers from the USAF flew around Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef in the Spratlys and were quickly challenged by Chinese Air Traffic Controller during the weekend of the 8th and 9th November 2015.

US PACAF released the transcript of the exchange between the bombers and the Chinese ATC and was reproduced by Alert 5 and are as follows:

Chinese ATC: “You have violated my reef. Change your course to avoid misjudgement.”

Chinese ATC: “You have violated the security of my reef. Change course to avoid misjudgment.”

Reply from the B-52: “I’m a United States military aircraft conducting lawful activities in international waters, and exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law. In exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard to the right and duties of all states.”

China has been making de facto claims on the Spratlys by doing reclamation works on reefs that include the construction of airfields and enforcing its “Nine-Dash Line” policy all the way into Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone. Being the sole regional Big Brother China has been flexing its muscle against its smaller neighbours economically and militarily. China’s runway at Fiery Cross reef has a runway that could land a H-6G bomber that could operate 5,700 kilometres from a home base, not to mention Shenyang J-11 fighters that could operate within a radius of 1,400 kilometres. Malaysia is now within a 45-minute strike distance.

As if that is not enough, the threat if asymmetric warfare from Sulu in the southern Philippines is also a clear and present danger. On the 15th November 2015, the Abu Sayyaf was reported to have met with elements from the IS to conduct terrorist attacks in Malaysia. The Abu Sayyaf is also notorious fir the kidnappings of westerners and Malaysians alike.

 

RMAF assets involved in Ex Paradise 2/15 – photo by Marhalim Abas
 
With the above in mind, the Royal Malaysian Air Force conducted and concluded Exercise Paradise 2/15 from the 9th until the 20th November 2015. With the objective to test its combat readiness and capabilities in the Second Air Region, the RMAF deployed assets such as the F/A-18D Hornet, Su-30MKM Flanker, BAe Hawk, 108/208, C-130H-30 transport aircraft, KC-130 tankers, CN-235 transport aircraft, helos such as the Sikorsky S61A4 Nuri and the Eurocopter EC725 and also involved the RMAF Special Forces regiment. The Malaysian Army’s 10th Brigade (Para) provided a team of air despatchers.

 

A RMAF F/A-18D Hornet from No.18 Squadron – pic by Capt Rahmat
 
Up until the 18th November 2015, a total of 198 air sorties had been flown. During the Field Training Exercise (FTX) RMAF assets successfully conducted Air to Ground firing exercises as well as Air Drop operations and insertion of special forces elements to support ground operations.

During the War Exercise (WAREX), the assets were then combined for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), High-Value Air Asset Protection (HVAAP), Combined Air Operations (COMAO), Mixed Fighter Force Operation (MFFO) and Large Force Employment (LFE).

According to Exercise Chairman, Major General Dato’ Mohd Shabre bin Haji Hussein RMAF, the exercise achieved more than 90 percent of its objectives in accordance with the Scenarios of Exercise (SOE) and was a success.

The media was also invited to witness the exercise in a bid by the Ministry of Defence as well as the RMAF in educating the media, and in turn the public, on the capabilities of the RMAF and the importance of public support towards the Malaysian Armed Forces in general.

Members of media had the privilege to take part in a Aircraft Force Down exercise involving fighter and transport assets.

 

Members of the media experiencing aircraft force down procedures in a side-exercise – photo by Fadzli Hafiz
 
In an observation by this writer, the Ministry of Defence has to seriously look at beefing up the assets of both the Royal Malaysian Air Force as well as the Royal Malaysian Navy. The Chinese government gets away with murder in the South China Sea simply because Malaysia lacks effective deterrence. The RMAF for example should be equipped with AWACS aircraft as well as the still-elusive MRCA.

 

A KC-130 tanker leading a formation of F/A-18Ds, Su-30MKMs and Bae Hawks – photo by MINDEF
 
This writer opines that in line with the principles of force projection, MRCAs should also be based in Labuan in sufficient numbers to deter the advance of PLAAF and PLAN assets, while the Hawks concentrate especially in providing air support for the ESSZONE by having forward operating bases in Tawau and Lahad Datu or Sandakan. Without strong deterrence, Malaysia will never be able to have diplomatic bargainjng power against any larger forces in the region.

Remembering MH17

When you spend your Hari Raya, don’t forget that a year ago tomorrow 298 souls including 43 of our brethren were on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam bound for KL. The 43 also included fathers, mothers, sister, brothers, grandmothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren who were looking forward to spending Aidil Fitri with their loved ones.

Alas, God loves them more. They never made it home alive. The flight was brought down, as I have  maintained from the fateful day itself, by a BUK surface-to-air missile.

Many a days were spent on trying to bring them back home and to retrieve the Black Boxes through normal channels but none of the channels worked. Not even the powerful western powers nor members of NATO could do anything while the 298 lie on the hard ground near Donetsk, Ukraine.

Lest we forget the man who spent sleepless nights trying to secure the bodies of the 298 as well as the Black Boxes using unorthodox methods:

 

 YAB PM Najib Razak :-
16 July 2015 
“It was a year ago, on 17 July 2014, that MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. We will never forget the 298 lives that were lost that day, including 43 of our fellow citizens. They were fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters… Some were students travelling abroad to continue their education. Others were returning after a holiday spent with their families. All were innocent. All were taken from us far too early.
It is hard to capture words to describe the shock and disbelief I felt on being told that there had been another Malaysian airplane tragedy, coming so soon after MH370 – which we were still in the process of mourning. Any sentiments I felt on a personal level had to be placed to the side, as we sought to comfort the families of those on board.

At that time, our foremost priority was ensuring the swift return of the bodies of those onboard to their families. It was crucial that this be done in a dignified manner that allowed the families to grieve properly.
The situation was complicated by the fact that the plane had been shot down over territory that was in the throes of a civil war, and controlled by non-government forces. Engaging with them was necessary in order to ensure the swift return of the bodies.

In those early days, we encountered criticism from various quarters, with segments of the foreign media calling on us to follow standard modus operandi. However, extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures, and we ignored those disruptive noises – standing our ground and doing it our way.

We cast aside standard protocol and, within days, had sent representatives from the National Security Council to meet the rebels and negotiate for a safe passage, ensure the return of the passengers’ remains, as well as access to the wreckage and flight recorders that would help us get to the truth of what happened on that fateful day.

Ultimately, Malaysia’s strong stance and decisive but consultative and unorthodox approach got the job done.

A year on, the battle for truth and justice is far from over, and we continue to provide our full cooperation to – and work closely with – the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) looking into this tragedy. They now have a clearer picture regarding the possible cause of the tragedy, and are expected to continue their investigation into all possible scenarios until the end of 2015.
The end goal is clear – to bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure they pay for this unforgivable crime, which claimed hundreds of innocent lives.

By early October this year, Insya-Allah, the report by the Dutch Safety Board will be published. At the same time, we will continue to push for the establishment of a full, thorough and independent international tribunal into the incident – for the sake of the families and friends of those who perished in the tragedy.
The victims of MH17 were casualties of a conflict that was not theirs.
To their loved ones – There are no words I can offer to ease your pain, but know that your pain and sorrow are shared amongst all of us. Malaysia wept for your loss, which was our loss too, and we will never let those who died be forgotten. Take comfort in knowing that MH17 brought the country together in an act of unity that would make anyone proud to call themselves Malaysians. May that unity be the legacy of those we lost.
I remember vividly the shock and anger I felt upon receiving that phone call, and the experience of leading our country through the tragedies of MH370 and MH17, in the space of mere months, are still fresh in my mind. I hope that neither our nation, nor any other nation, has to endure such tragedies again.

Above all, I pray for the families of those who perished to stay strong in these trying times. Remember that all of Malaysia stands in unity beside you, and we will continue to stand beside you – for as long as it takes – as we work tirelessly in search of truth and justice for your loved ones
Al-Fatihah”

Selamat Hari Raya to all my blog readers and Al-Fatihah for those who were on board the MH17.

Diplomatic Insanity

The latest incident involving a Warrant Officer of the Malaysian Armed Forces attached to the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand who was arrested on 9th May for attempted burglary and sexual assault is one that is both simple but complex in nature, but comes with a simple solution.

The crime may not be as bad as the crimes committed by Arjen Rudd, the South African diplomat in the blockbuster movie “Lethal Weapon 2” (played by Joss Ackland) nor is it as bad as an incident involving the Ambassador of Myanmar to Sri Lanka, but the crimes committed by this Warrant Officer warrants a serious action. In all the instances above, the clause “Diplomatic Immunity” was invoked.

Contrary to popular belief, Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations says that as long as you are a member of the Embassy staff, you are entitled to the immunities prescribed in Articles 29 thru 36; and this includes spouse, children, maids, servants working there, plus minus one or two articles for non-staff. The Warrant Officer is a diplomatic agent, and under Article 29 he is inviolable: he cannot be prosecuted for any crime committed in the Receiving State which, in this case, is New Zealand.

As in the case of the Myanmar Ambassador to Sri Lanka, the Ambassador in 1979 suspected his wife of having an affair, shot her. Then, on the grounds of the Embassy, he built a funeral pyre and cremated his wife in full view of the police, media and the public AND STILL REMAINED AN AMBASSADOR! This is how strong Article 29 is.

The Warrant Officer was brought back to Malaysia on the 22nd of May after the Malaysian High Commission invoked the man’s diplomatic immunity. On the 29th May, the Malaysian Armed Forces convened a. Board of Inquiry into the incident, and none of us would have known of this until someone in New Zealand kicked up so much fuss to not notice!

Is it right, however, to not send him back to New Zealand to face charges?

The Government of Malaysia should use Article 32 para 1 of the Convention to waive his diplomat status and express this waiver as prescribed in Para 2 of the same Article. Then send this guy back to. New Zealand to dance to the tune he had asked for, while the Foreign Ministry work on repairing the damage done.

We cannot ignore nor condone blatant criminal acts by our civil servants or by any individual of the public, especially when in other countries. We should not jeopardise Malaysia’s reputation abroad just for the sake of one criminal.

Therefore, I call upon Anifah Aman to do the right thing: crucify the Warrant Officer and stop this diplomatic insanity!

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