KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― Putrajaya does not have a register of foreign intelligence operatives in Malaysia as these do not advertise their presence, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told PKR's Sim Tze Tzin today.
Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, was responding to Sim’s question asking how many spies were currently operating in Malaysia.
“The Home Ministry and the police do not have any information on the number of foreign spies who are in the country as no foreign country declares their agents to the authorities here,” he said in the written reply to Sim.
However, he said his ministry, through the Special Branch, will monitor for possible activities by foreign operatives to avoid more incidents such as the recent murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Sim later said this meant that the country's intelligence community has failed as it was expected that the government should have some knowledge of whether it was being subjected to foreign espionage.
He added that it was already part of the Special Branch's purview to monitor against foreign spies.
“If the Home Ministry or police do not have any information on the estimated number of spies operating in Malaysia, that means they have failed,” he said.
The Bayan Baru MP then alleged that this failure was what made the assassination of Jong-nam here possible.
Jong-Nam died on February 13 after he was attacked using what police said was the VX nerve agent at the KLIA2 terminal.
Two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, have been charged with his murder.
However, police believe the masterminds to be North Koreans and are seeking seven, including one said to be a senior official at the embassy here.