Freed Malaysians say phone calls with Najib, Wisma Putra gave assurance of safety

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SEPANG: The nine Malaysians, earlier barred from leaving Pyongyang and now safely home, said they were thankful of the government's effort and support from Malaysians leading to their release.

Malaysian embassy counselor in North Korea, Mohd Nor Azrin Md Zain said they were glad to finally be home.

“All of us would like to thank Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from the bottom of our heart for the leadership, support and personal involvement in ensuring our safe and speedy return.

“His telephone call goes a long way in reassuring us when we were in Pyongyang,” he told reporters.

Mohd Nor spoke of their dread when the travel ban was imposed on them by North Korea.

He said they were worried as they had done nothing wrong.

"We knew we had to keep our spirits up as our close family members are worried for us," said Mohd Nor.

On another note, he added that they were not harassed by the North Korean authorities and were given assurance that life would go on as normal.

But the fact that they were prevented from leaving meant they can't fly out to Beijing, China to run their errands and bring in supplies, he said.

“That we were able to communicate through telephone call and WhatsApp, it was very comforting.

“It was also comforting that we were asked to submit daily report to Wisma Putra, since it meant that our welfare is being monitored by our Foreign Ministry,” he added.

He said other embassies in Pyongyang were also helpful, and some even offered to bring in foodstuff and other supplies when they traveled to Beijing.

He pointed out that embassies of Asean countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia, as well as Pakistan, Poland and Sweden were there to provide support and help.

Reporting by ZAFIRA ANWAR, MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING and FERNANDO FONG