THE Government cannot take action or arrest individuals suspected of being spies unless they have committed a crime in the country, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
"How can we arrest someone before they commit a crime?" stated Nur Jazlan in response to a point raised by Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) when debating the motion of thanks on the Royal Address yesterday.
Mahfuz, in reference to the murder of North Korean Kim Jong-nam, asked why the Government was unable to detect spies in the country and urged intelligence efforts to be stepped up.
Nur Jazlan said even if Malaysian intelligence agencies have information on spies in the country, it would remain a government secret.
"If there are spies, we know what to do. There is no need to publicise the details.
"If the police did not know, they would not have obtained an Interpol red notice for the arrest of the four other North Koreans (believed to be involved in the killing of Jong-nam)," said Nur Jazlan when winding up debates on his ministry.
In a text message later, Nur Jazlan also clarified that it was not easy to identify and track spies.
"If they are experienced, it is not easy to identify and track them and prove that they are spies," he said.
The Penal Code provides for life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of espionage.
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has called for an end to speculation about Malaysia's relations with North Korea, fearing that it could disrupt the ongoing negotiations between both countries.
"The strained relations will not trigger a war, as Malaysia stands firmly in choosing a peaceful and diplomatic resolution," Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Baharum said when wrapping up the motion of thanks on the Royal Address.
He said the country would always seek the best solution, without causing any bloodshed.
"Although Malaysia is a small country compared to the world's superpowers, we are respected internationally.
"Therefore, I hope everyone will not be too quick to speculate and make assumptions as we fear that this can disrupt the negotiations that are underway," he added.
Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at KLIA2 last month.
Two women - a Vietnamese and Indonesian - have been charged with his murder this month.
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