KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 ― The Home Ministry is reviewing the Malaysian permanent residency of India-born preacher Dr Zakir Naik even as police investigate him for incitement.
Citing unnamed government sources, Singapore daily The Straits Times reported today that Cabinet has decided Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is to issue statements that Dr Zakir will no longer be allowed to stay in Malaysia, but will not mention deportation.
“Zakir's permanent resident status is under the Home Ministry's purview. It can be reviewed with justifiable cause and he is also not immune to criminal charges,” one of the officials was quoted saying.
Dr Zakir was granted Malaysian PR in 2015 under the Barisan Nasional administration.
Hugely popular among conservative Muslim Malaysians, the Islamic preacher has drawn flak from the minority ethnic Indians and Chinese for his inflammatory remarks against them and their religious beliefs.
Federal police are currently investigating him under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace after getting 115 public complaints over his latest remarks during a lecture in Kota Baru, Kelantan last Saturday.
There, Dr Zakir was reported by news portal Malaysiakini to have claimed Indian Malaysians were more loyal to the Narendra Modi government of India than the Mahathir administration. The Mumbai-born was also reported to have called Chinese Malaysians “old guests” who should go back to their ancestral lands before he should be made to leave the country.
The Warisan-led Sabah government has said it will ban entry to Dr Zakir if he continued to make incendiary religious speeches.
In a statement last night, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin issued a warning that action will be taken against anyone who disrupts Malaysia’s harmony and public order, whether they are citizens or not.
Dr Mahathir was previously seen as protective of the 53-year-old Islamic evangelist when he rejected an extradition request from India where Dr Zakir is wanted money laundering and hate speech charges.
But the prime minister has said that he is willing to send Dr Zakir to any other country that wants him and where the latter does not run the risk of being killed.
Dr Zakir has been evading Indian authorities since 2016, when files were opened against him for allegedly making hate speeches and laundering money after five militants launched an attack on a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended with 29 dead.