KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The decision by the government to bar the national squad from travelling to Pyongyang, North Korea for the 2019 Asia Cup Qualifying match against North Korea on March 28, received positive response from various parties.
Sports Critic and Historian Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim feels the Malaysian government made the right choice by preventing the Malaysian squad from playing the match in Pyongyang.
Kay Kim said the decision to impose a travel ban and seek to play the match at a neutral venue was based on security and safety of the players.
“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as the governing body must consider the safety of both teams when making a decision. AFC must understand the current situation and the rising tension between both countries.
“It will be dangerous because we do not know how North Korea feels. We will not know what will happen when the squad is in North Korea,” he told Bernama when contacted today.
He said Malaysia should also make a wise decision in the matter based on any situation or whatever condition.
Former international Khalid Ali said the decision proves that the government is very concerned with the safety of the players and the people of Malaysia.
“Based on the safety factor, it will be wise to make neutral decision. The situation in North Korea may be different and they might still be angry,” he said, obviously referring to the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2).
Mohamed Khairi Mustafa, 32, from Petaling Jaya said preventing the National team from playing in Pyongyang would mean taking precaution rather than being sorry if something happens.
“What is important is the safety of the players. We should not gamble the safety of players, especially so due to the current rising tension between both countries although our intention might be good,” he said.
Housewife Aini Natrah Majid, 41, from Johor Bahru said it would not be worth taking a risk since the risk factor is high, especially if provoked by North Korean fans.
“What if there is a clash or riot because we do not know anything about the fans from the country (North Korea),” she said.
Ties between both countries remain strained three weeks after Jong Nam’s murder, allegedly after a nerve gas attack believed to have been carried out by two women hired by the North Korean regime.
Both countries have sent home their ambassadors, after Malaysia declared Kang Chol, the North Korean ambassador, as persona non grata, for refusing to cooperate with police on Jong Nam’s murder probe.
Kang Chol reportedly made unfounded and baseless accusations against the Malaysian Government relating to investigations into the murder of North Korean Kim Jong-nam on Feb 13, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Jong-nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia 2) when he was about to leave for Macau. — Bernama