KUCHING, Aug 16 ― Malaysians should stop quarreling among themselves over what will happen to India-born preacher Dr Zakir Naik once he leaves the country to face trial, PKR federal lawmaker Willie Mongin said today.
The Puncak Borneo MP joined other political leaders and NGOs in calling for the divisive Malaysian permanent resident to be deported to his birth country and stand trial on money laundering and hate speech charges.
“If Zakir is innocent, then he must be tested by his own country’s laws. We cannot be penny wise, pound foolish. Just to protect one person, we are quarreling among ourselves,” Willie said.
He said Dr Zakir’s religious lectures have created ill-feelings and hatred between people of different faiths and races.
“Are we willing to protect him and destroy our country’s unity and created more hatred among Malaysians?
“How can we, in all conscience, justify the direction, inspiration and hope of this New Malaysia?” Willie asked, directing his concern to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
He said he has fought more than a decade with other like-minded Malaysians to uphold justice, fairness, progress and peace in his beloved country.
“Definitely, this is not the direction that we wanted. I appeal to the PH government to reconsider their decision to protect Zakir Naik and as a member of Parliament, I will put my appeal in writing to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he said.
Separately, Selangau PKR division chief Joshua Jabeng urged PH to treat the issue with urgency.
He said many non-Muslims, including in Sarawak and Sabah, feel being threatened because of Dr Zakir’s remarks.
“As a foreigner, Zakir has no right and is not qualified to get involved in Malaysian politics,” Jabeng said.
He added that the preacher should not be allowed to continue with his provocations without any restriction.
He said the country has laws against any extremist , including Dr Zakir, for making provocative public statements.
Dr Zakir has been on the run from Indian authorities since 2016 for money laundering charges and for allegedly inspiring terrorism after five militants attacked a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended with 29 dead.
He is under police investigation for incitement over remarks made against Indian and Chinese Malaysians during a lecture in Kota Baru, Kelantan on August 10.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said the government will not send Dr Zakir back to India because he risks being killed there, but added that any other country that is willing to accept the preacher is welcome to take him.