Kim Jong-nam’s murder masterminds back in North Korea


 

Official story: Noor Rashid speaking to the media during the press conference at Bukit Aman.

KUALA LUMPUR: Four suspects being hunted by Bukit Aman in the assassination of North Korean exile Kim Jong-nam are believed to be back in Pyongyang after leaving the country for Jakarta immediately after the attack.

The four – Rhi Ji-hyon, 33, (arrived in Malaysia on Feb 4), Hong Song-hac, 34, (arrived Jan 31), O Jong-gil, 55, (arrived Feb 7) and Ri Jae-nam, 57, (arrived Feb 1) – left for Jakarta from KLIA2 immediately after the attack on Monday.

From Jakarta, sources say they flew to Dubai and Vladivostok before reaching Pyongyang.

“They may have taken the long route to shake off the authorities,” sources said.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said Malaysian police are cooperating with Interpol and other relevant bodies overseas to track them.

Bukit Aman’s first priority is to collect all evidence on the suspects’ involvement in the case.

“Next plan is to get them. We will use all resources to pursue them,” Noor Rashid told a press conference, the first by the police since the killing.

On the possibility that the murder was politically motivated, Noor Rashid said the police were not interested in any political angle.

“What we are interested in is why they committed such a crime in our country.

“Any political angle can be put aside as it is not our job to worry about political matters.

“We want to get at the truth and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said.

He said police were also looking for North Korean citizen Ri Ji-u, 30, also known as James, along with two others to help in investigations.

Of those arrested, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, arrived from Hanoi on Feb 4 while Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, a spa masseuse, entered the country via Batam on Feb 2.

North Korean Ri Jong-chol, 47, was arrested on Friday and entered Malaysia on Aug 6 last year.

“We are in the process of identifying the two others sought to assist in the investigations,” said Noor Rashid.

“We hope anyone with information can come forward,” he said.

On Jong-nam’s post-mortem, Noor Rashid said that it was conducted on Feb 15 at Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

“The cause of death is still unknown. We are waiting for the toxicology and pathological test results. I think in a few days, we will get the toxicology result.

“The case will be referred to the deputy public prosecutor for fur­ther instructions and investi­ga­tion,” he said.

Priority is given to close family members or next of kin to claim the body and they have been given two weeks to do so, added Noor Rashid.

“It is very important for close family members of the deceased to come forward to assist us in the process of identification, which is based on our legal procedures and Malaysian law.

“However, as of today, we have not met the next of kin. We are trying very hard to get the next of kin to assist us,” he said.

In the event that the family does not show up, Noor Rashid said police will look at further options.

Sources: By  farik zolkepli, jastin ahmad tarmizi, merga watizul fakar, adrian chan The Star

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Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service


Sheriff: ‘Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy

KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia’s former top civil servants has called on the Government to consider downsizing the country’s bloated civil service, while it still can.

Malaysia has the highest civil servants to population ratio in the Asia-Pacific, employing 1.6 million people or 11% of the country’s labour force.

And that could be a problem Malaysia may not be able to sustain if it runs into a financial crisis, said Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, the former Finance Ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general.

He said if the Government was really set on keeping the national deficit at 3%, it needed to look at retrenching employees, particularly in the lower levels of the civil service, to cut spending.

“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy. There are just too many rules and regulations that the public and private sector have to live with,” he told a delegation of economists, politicians and government officials at the Malaysian Economic Association’s forum on public sector governance.

He advised Malaysia to begin downsizing the civil service, “better sooner than later” if it wanted to avoid running the risk of falling into a Greece-like crisis, where the European country had to cut salaries and was unable to pay pensions for its civil service.

Drawing examples from the recent Malaysia Airlines restructuring, where 6,000 people were retrenched, Mohd Sheriff said it was better to let staff go now and compensate them with retrenchment packages while the Government can still afford it.

“It may cost the Government a heavy expenditure now but it is worthwhile to do it now while we can still afford it and not until we are forced into a financial crisis like Greece.

“We don’t want to be in that situation. I think we should do it gradually. It is kinder to do it now with incentives than to suddenly cut their salaries and pensions at a time when they can least afford it,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to spend RM76bil in salaries and allowances for the civil service this year, on top of another RM21bil for pensions. Efficiency and corruption dominated talks on the civil service at the forum, held at Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang.

Mohd Sheriff, who is also former president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said these issues have been around since his time in the civil service decades ago though not much has changed due to a lack of political will.

In jest, he suggested Malaysia emulate United States President Donald Trump’s idea on downsizing the US civil service by closing down two departments of the Government if it wanted to open another one.

He also suggested that Parliament create a committee to monitor the performance of top civil servants and give them the ability to retrench these officers if they fail to meet their marks.

“In many countries, even Indonesia, they have committees to hold Government leaders to any shortcomings on policy implementations and projects.

“These are the kinds of checks and balance we need to make our civil servants aware that they are being monitored for their work and they can be pulled out at any time,” he said.

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani had said Malaysia’s ratio of civil servants is one to 19.37 civilians and that the high number of Government staff had caused expenditures to balloon yearly.

As a comparison, the ratio in Indonesia is 1:110, in China it is 1:108, in Singapore it’s 1:71.4 and in South Korea the ratio is 1:50.

Despite this, Johari said there were no plans to reduce the number of civil servants.

By Nicholas Ccheng The Star

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For the love of Datuk titles


Zunar’s cartoon reflects the glut of titles in society. Image from Aliran Monthly.

 

IF there’s one Malaysian practice that needs reviewing, it has to be this – the long salutations, thanks to the titles of prominent individuals, at the start of speeches during functions.

I can never understand why addressing the audience as “distinguished guests” isn’t good enough. Surely, the audience would be happy to be called distinguished. Or maybe even just “Ladies and Gentlemen”.

Malaysians, however, have to cringe and listen to speakers formally addressing each and every titled person at functions.

We begin with “Tan Sri Tan Sri, Puan Sri Puan Sri, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri, Datin Seri Datin Seri, Datuk Datuk, Datin Datin and distinguished guests”.

And this before the speaker even begins honouring the more important guests by actually naming them one by one, along with their long titles, honorifics and designations.

All these can take up to 10 minutes before the person finally gets to the actual speech.

Welcome to Malaysia. This is another practice which reflects our obsession with formality and titles. It may sound medieval and strange to visitors to Malaysia but this is the done thing here, presumably because some ego-inflated titled individual got offended when his title was not mentioned in a speech.

But alas, the whole thing has become a mockery of sorts. The intention, good as it may be, is actually offensive to the other equally important guests, those with no titles.

They have ended up at the bottom of the pack, in the category of “tuan tuan dan puan puan” or “ladies and gentlemen.” To put it in perspective, without us realising, this is like the category of “dan lain-lain” or “others” which many Malaysians have stood up against.

One would understand it if such a practice is carried out in a palace where protocols are strictly adhered to but surely, not in ordinary functions?

For one, it takes up precious time when most of us just want to get on with the business of the day or in many instances, get on with the dinner. Please, at 8.30pm, most of us are hungry already.

Many times, guests are made to wait, especially when the guest of honour arrives late. By the time the VIP gets there, and thanks to the long and winding speeches, dinner is finally served – at 9.30pm or 10pm.

One wonders why the VIP has to be ushered into a holding room – another peculiar Malaysian practice – before he makes his grand entrance into the ballroom.

I have attended enough events in Britain and the United States, where VIPs would just walk straight into the function hall without any fanfare.

In London, then mayor Boris Johnson cycled to the opening of a property development site and in Sydney, the mayor parked his car a short distance away and walked to the venue!

He introduced himself to his (very) surprised Malaysian audience – and of course, there was no entourage fussing around him to make him look important, another one of our local standard operating procedure.

To be fair, not all of our VIPs are spoilt silly. Sometimes, it is their officers who make a fuss over these formal arrangements to the event’s host.

Those in the royal circles, who have a career in protocol, push even harder – even when the heads of states themselves do not demand it.

His Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor does not even allow waiters to get the napkins ready for him before his meals, insisting on doing it himself.

The Ruler drives his own car often to functions and tells his police motorcade not to put the sirens on because to him, there was no need to put on such a display of importance.

The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, sportingly poses for selfies with his subjects often, sending his security and protocol officers into a frenzy many times.

And most of the time, he drives his car himself. Often, he makes a stop and have a meal at roadside shops, without prior notice. For breakfast, he goes to a mamak restaurant for roti canai quite regularly, again without fuss or advance notice.

At the Cabinet level, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of International Trade and Industry, is certainly the most down-to-earth minister from Umno.

Travellers taking the ERL from KL Sentral to KLIA often see Mustapa travelling alone or taking a flight on Economy Class home to Kelantan. He does not see the need to shout about it or have his officers post a picture on Instagram to get publicity.

Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar insisted on moving around on his own, without the need for bodyguards, when he was in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). The same can be said of Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who is now chief executive officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

Perhaps their non-political background helps but having said that, there are corporate figures who are even more status-conscious than politicians.

And seriously, what do Malaysian VIPs do with gifts or “token of appreciation” items presented to them at the end of every function? Yep, they are probably gathering dust in some room filled to the brim with other such items in Putrajaya.

At one time, there was a proposal that only a basket of fruits be given as it was more practical but it never got off the ground.

Likewise, this article will have no impact on the issue.

I wish to thank the “Tun Tun, Toh Puan Toh Puan, Tan Sri Tan Sri, Puan Sri Puan Sri, Datuk Seri Datuk Seri, Datin Seri Datin Seri, Datuk Datuk, Datin Datin, tuan tuan dan puan puan yang dihormati sekalian” for reading this.

On The Beat By Wong Chun Wai  
 
Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist
in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various
capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief
executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.On The
Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column
weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the
paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected
articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in
conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current
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Where is your Datukship from, Datuk? The trouble with titles


Malaysia is in danger of becoming a nation with the most number of decorated people

THIS has to be a record of some sort – a notorious gang of 60 hardened criminals including four low-level politicians with the titles of Datuk and a Datuk Seri, has been netted in a series of swoops.

The Gang 360 Devan gang, involved in murder, drug-pushing, luxury car theft and hijacking, has to be the gang with the most number of titled leaders.

Then, there is also the leader of the notorious Gang 24 – a Datuk Seri – who was among 22 men held in another spate of arrests.

Last December, a gang leader known as Datuk M or Datuk Muda was shot dead by his bodyguard while they were driving along the Penang Bridge. The Datuk was a detainee at the Simpang Renggam centre.

A day later, a video went viral showing a heavily tattooed man being violently beaten up by a group of men believed to be gangsters, at the late Datuk’s funeral.

Three days ago, there was a series of arrests by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) which saw a number of Datuks being arrested and charged.

If we hold the record of being the country which has the highest ratio of government servants, we may also soon be the country with the most number of titled people.

And if we are not careful, we could well be a country which has the most titled criminals.

The people being conferred a Datukship seem to be getting younger and some are surprisingly under 30 years old, which begs the question – what have these youngsters contributed to society to deserve such titles?

Last October, Singapore’s Straits Times carried prominently a news report of a teenager who purportedly became the youngest “Datuk” in the country.

“The image that went viral shows the apparent recipient of the title standing in a crowded waiting room while dressed in ceremonial attire with the caption reading: “Youngest Dato in Malaysia … 19 years.”

The Malaysian media, which carried the news earlier, has not been able to verify the age of the person in the photo. And no one has denied the authenticity of the article, not even the person in the photo, who may actually be older than he looks.

Regardless of which state these titles are from, many Malaysians rightly deserve the recognition from the royal houses because of their community work, in various forms.

One or two states, especially Pahang, seem to be more generous in conferring awards while states like Selangor, Johor, Perak, Sarawak and Kelantan are more stringent in their selection.

The Selangor state constitution states that only a maximum of 40 Datuk titles can be conferred each year.

The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has imposed stricter conditions – including the minimum age of 45 – for a person to be conferred the state’s Datukship, to limit the number of recipients and protect the image and dignity of the awards.

In the case of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has expressed his frustrations openly, saying sarcastically “that it has come to a point that if you throw a stone, it will hit a Datuk and when the stone rebounds, it will hit another Datuk”, to illustrate the point that Malaysia is in danger of becoming a nation with the most number of decorated people.

While the increasing number of people with the Datuk title has long been a contentious issue, what Malaysians are concerned about is the number of such titled persons being involved in crime.

Pictures of a certain Datuk with a visible tattoo on his hand, purportedly depicting his gang allegiance, have long gone viral on social media.

Malaysians are asking whether royal houses submitted the names of potential recipients to the police for vetting before conferring them with titles. This is a practice of the Sultan of Selangor. If that were the case with every state, criminals would not have been awarded.

I have complete faith in the ability of our police force. They will carry out their duty of checking the background of such people if asked to do so.

But what is taking place now in Malaysia is also a reflection of our people’s obsession with titles, honorifics and even fake academic titles.

Our former deputy prime minister, the late Tun Ghafar Baba, was just plain Encik, until the day he retired from office.

In Tunku Abdul Rahman’s first Cabinet, after we achieved independence, only five of 15 ministers were made Datuks.

The finance minister at the time, Tan Siew Sin, only held the title of Justice of Peace – which is recognised in Commonwealth countries.

Penang’s first Chief Minister, the late Wong Pow Nee, had no title until he retired, after which he was made Tan Sri. Another was the late Gerakan president Dr Lim Chong Eu who only became Tun upon retirement.

In short, things were pretty simple back then, with proper methodology when it came to conferring decorations, medals and titles. But not today.

There are now so many variations of the Datuk titles – Datuk Seri, Datuk Sri, Datuk Paduka, Dato’, Datuk Wira and Datuk Patinggi (depending on the states) – it has become confusing, even to members of the media.

There are now calls from some titled people that the press should use their titles accurately. I can only imagine the number of corrections the media has to deal with if mistakes are made and some snooty individual gets upset.

In the 1970s, the media decided to standardise how these title holders should be addressed by calling them all “Datuk”. The press also decided to call the Datuk Sri from Pahang “Datuk Seri”.

It is just impossible to check every single title or pre-fix when naming a person.

The reporter does not ask the police where the criminal suspect got his Datukship. Neither can we ask the Datuk criminal as he is being led to the courts in handcuffs, “Where is your Datukship from, Datuk” ?

Besides Brunei, the Malaysian press must be the only one that includes the titles of individuals. Well, there is the British media but they only address those who are knighted with the title “Sir”.

The royalty shouldn’t be the only party blamed for the increasing number of Datuks. Malaysians are willing to go to all lengths to buy the titles, even from bogus sources.

But the titles must not be bestowed on any one with a criminal record or it makes a mockery of this honour.

By Wong Chun Hai The Star/ANN

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Penang CM corruption case, Court to rule on motion anti-corruption act ‘unconstitutional’


In this file photo taken on 30 June 2016, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Khoon was seen in Penang Sessions Court. Lim was charged with two counts of corruption. The High Court here today fixed March 7 to unveil its decision on a motion filed by two accused parties in the corruption case of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who are seeking a declaration that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act is unconstitutional. Pix by Danial Saad
Men of law: DPP Masri (right) leading the prosecution team out of the courtroom after the day’s proceedings.

Court to rule on ‘violation’ motion ahead of CM corruption trial

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here will rule on March 7 whether Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 is in violation of the Federal Constitution.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon want Section 62 to be declared unconstitutional as they claim it is against the tenet of “considered innocent unless proven guilty.”

Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the date after the defence and prosecution made their arguments.

Lim and Phang are facing charges under the MACC Act in relation to the sale and purchase of a bungalow in 2014 and separately filed the motion to declare Section 62 a violation of the Federal Constitution in early January.

Phang’s counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram said Section 62 must be struck down as “it is contrary to a right to fair trial and is in violation of the fundamental rights of the accused.”

He argued that the section infringes the accused’s constitutional right under Article 5(1) and Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“Section 62 of the MACC Act requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.

“However, the right of an accused to be presumed innocent and right to silence are encapsulated in the Federal Constitution.

“Article 5(1) declares that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law and Article 8(1) dictates that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

“The court has not called for defence and yet the prosecution is asking for the statement of defence, even before the court decides. This is against the presumption of innocence,” he told the court yesterday.

Gobind Singh, acting for Lim, said the provision favours the prosecution and discriminates against the rights of the accused.

He argued that Section 62 restricted the defence of the accused person by excluding the right of an accused to expand his defence further and produce further documents at the trial.

“It is against the provisions of equality under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the accused could be subjected to criminal consequences under Section 68 of the MACC Act for failing to comply with the Act’s provisions and be penalised under Section 69 of the MACC Act.

DPP Masri Mohd Daud said Section 62 of the MACC Act is not discriminatory and is procedural and a general provision.

“The Act does not stop the defence from making further submissions other than those which had been submitted,” said Masry.

“The arguments that Section 62 contradicts Article 5 of the Con-stitution is far-fetched! Article 5 refers to, among others, the rights to consult a lawyer and the rights to be informed of the grounds for an arrest.”

On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

The offence under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Phang at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015. The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Phang, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Both Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty. Their cases will be jointly heard between March and July.

Phang is respresented by Sithambaram, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and A. Ruebankumar, while Lim by Gobind, Ramkarpal Singh Deo, R.S.N Rayer and Terence Naidu.

By Chong Kah Yuan The Star/Asia News Network

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http://www.sprm.gov.my/…/1059-malaysiananticorruptioncommissionact2009act-694

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South Korea can’t tackle new Trump Order alone, be prepared new Trump order !


Trump-tanic by Stephff | China Daily

South Korea, in particular, could take a leaf from Japan’s playbook on preparing for a face-off and making the right structural reforms.

It’s official. A new world order, aka, the Trump Order, has been set in motion.

Most of us should have been ready for it, since the man had been more than clear about backtracking on America’s global trade policies. And now, in one flamboyant gesture, he has overturned his predecessor Barack Obama’s decision to join the TPP.

As one of the key members, Japan is up in arms. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed he would continue to try and persuade President Donald Trump.

At the same time, Tokyo appears to be quite ready to face the new threat.

Japan is a country that downplays the number of naval destroyers it has in order to keep its frenemies in check, and to assure them it still has a long way to go in terms of military defense. In reality, Tokyo is armed with seemingly worn-down subs that can actually be made battle-ready at a moment’s notice.

The Abe Shinzo administration has been ready to face off with Trump for a while now, and internal government sources say the foundations have already been laid. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already put in motion the necessary structural reforms to wean Japan off of the US or make Japanese firms more competitive in the face of high tariffs. Abe is also preparing to enlist the support of high-profile companies such as Softbank, which has been pledging more investment in America.

Further, Japan is looking to cut loose from China, which has made it clear it won’t play into US hands.

In contrast to Japan and China, South Korea has a smaller say. But that does not mean it has less on the line.

The country stands as the world’s 11th-largest economy in terms of GDP, but it also depends on exports for more than two-thirds of it. So any policy decisions by its chief trade partners are bound to have a profound impact — even more so now that its internal economic affairs are in a mess due to the ongoing impeachment. South Korea truly cannot afford to have its global partnerships jeopardized.

During his presidential campaign, Trump has already called the US-Korea FTA a failed partnership that has robbed the US of 100,000 jobs. 

The Seoul government should have long been brainstorming a strategy to keep the deal on track, and must readily communicate its plans with the public before the concerns mushroom into something bigger.

The alliance with the US goes far beyond military issues, and the significance should not be downplayed or tainted in any way if Korea is to continue pursuing its national interests.

The strategy should be laid out in such a way to prevent Koreans from harboring unnecessary ill sentiment toward the US, and vice versa. For this, both governments will have to cooperate seamlessly. Trump must realize the contribution that Koreans and the Korean economy are making in the US.

That while it may not be comparable in size to other nations such as Japan and China, there is no going around the fact that in the end, cliche has it may sound, it is indeed a global economy.

Korean firms should take a cue from Softbank and find ways they can offer more support for the Korean economy as it faces the aftershocks of Trump’s latest policy move.

As for the US, it must remember that Korean companies like Hyundai, Samsung and LG have been seeking cheaper entry into the US for years via countries like Mexico and Vietnam.

The change of a regime must not pull the plug on these efforts for the sake of global partnership. And needless to say, the products and services brought into the US also help create livelihoods there, and give Americans what they need.

All of this should not be forgotten or put on a back burner. As already witnessed in the Lehman Brothers meltdown, the intricate web of global trade and finance ensures that the demise of a single company can affect so many more.

But, in a weird and twisted way, I do envy the American people. Sure, there could have been someone better than Trump, who psychologists have branded as narcissistic and delusional.

But for many Americans, Trump is doing what they have only dreamed of doing and saying. To say out loud, that they think America is the best, that they are scared of anyone appearing to infringe upon its beliefs and interests, even at the expense of other nations and peoples. To say that the US won’t play the peace-brokering leader who is constantly mindful of others, including rivals. To say, the US will start acting only for its benefit-regardless of how short-sighted this may be.

To have a president, as strange as he may be, who for now, appears so committed in his campaign, does draw an odd contrast with our embattled President Park Geun-hye who now seems anxious only to cover her own tail.

In some ways, they are similar in that they seem to prioritize themselves. But at least for now, Trump is giving many Americans the promise they need, as twisted or unorthodox his methods may be.

In a similar fashion, but based on a strategic and acceptable approach, Korea should be ready to protect its interests and its people amid the fast-changing global order. And all other players in the economy must be ready to lend a helping hand.

By Kim Ji-hyun

Kim Ji-hyun is The Korea Herald’s Tokyo  Correspondent. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
 

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