Politicians and lawmakers have slammed North Korea for barring Malaysians from leaving the hermit kingdom.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin lambasted the country, saying the act was tantamount to taking hostages.
"This is unacceptable. DPRK (North Korea) must allow free passage of Malaysians at once," he tweeted yesterday.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed reminded Pyongyang not to breach international laws and that Malaysian citizens should be treated well following the barring.
"We hope our citizens are treated well in accordance with international laws," he said.
He said this when asked to comment on Pyongyang's temporary move to bar Malaysians from exiting North Korea until the safety of its diplomats and citizens in Malaysia was fully guaranteed.
The recent murder of Kim Jong-nam that attracted global attention has taken a toll on Malaysia-North Korea ties, with the Malaysian ambassador being recalled and the North Korean ambassador ordered to leave the country.
Mustapa said Pyongyang's move to bar Malaysians from leaving North Korea was expected.
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad said Malaysians have to stand united in this matter. He said North Korea must be rational and not behave in an uncivilised manner.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon also condemned the action, calling it "unacceptable" and "inhumane".
"This is blatantly keeping our citizens hostage. I call on all Malaysians to stand united against such a tyrannical act by North Korea," he said.
He urged Pyongyang to lift the travel ban to prevent ties from worsening. He also hoped that the United Nations would step in to help resolve the "hostage situation".