BEIJING (Reuters) - The killing of the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader who had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau may be top news around the world, but for some Macanese legislators at China’s parliament it’s more a case of Kim Jong Who?
Kim Jong Nam was killed on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Malaysian police believe he was assaulted by two women who smeared his face with VX, a chemical classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.
He had been planning to travel back to the former Portuguese colony of Macau. The story has also been widely covered in Chinese state media, though Beijing, with its close ties to Pyongyang, has had little to say about it so far in public.
Macau delegates to China’s annual meeting of parliament said they knew little or nothing of the case, and were unwilling to say whether Kim’s family was still in Macau or if they were under police protection, underscoring the case’s sensitivity.
Asked on Sunday about Kim’s family, José Chui, a cousin of Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui, first said he didn’t understand the question, and then walked away.
Asked later in English whether Kim’s family was still in Macau, Chui answered: “I have no idea”.
“I read (about it) in the newspaper, but I have no information from my sources. I don’t think I’m in a position to give you any details.”
Lu Bo, president of Chinese-language paper the Macao Daily News, initially said he knew nothing of the case. Pressed further, he said: “I’m not interested in it.”
Lionel Leong, Macau’s secretary of economy and finance, declined to comment.
Macau, like neighboring Hong Kong, sends representatives to the annual meeting of China’s largely rubber stamp parliament, which opened on Sunday. They are all carefully chosen by Beijing.
Before he was killed in Malaysia, Kim lived quietly in the Asian gambling hub of Macau, avoiding controversy and seemingly relaxed about personal safety, according to sources close to him.
U.S. and South Korean government sources say they believe North Korean agents killed Kim, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Despite China’s ostensible friendship with North Korea, Beijing has been angered by Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Dominic Evans