PETALING JAYA: Malay pressure group Perkasa said the Malaysian government’s decision to grant a permanent resident status to Dr Zakir Naik was justified, saying it was Putrajaya’s right to protect the controversial Muslim preacher who is wanted by Indian authorities.
“The government of the day in Malaysia has the right to take everything into consideration,” said Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali to FMT.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that Naik, who is wanted by Indian authorities over money laundering and terrorism-related charges, was a Malaysian permanent resident since five years ago.
Ibrahim recalled the French government’s decision in 1978 to grant political asylum to late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini who was fleeing persecution from the Shah’s regime.
Khomeini returned to Iran in 1979 to lead the revolution that toppled the Shah, which replaced the Iranian monarchy with an Islamic republic.
Ibrahim said granting PR to Naik was not a big issue.
“Here we do not know if the accusations are correct or not,” he said referring to the Indian authorities’ investigation into Naik’s activities.
“Granting the PR is not as big as granting the political asylum to Khomeini.”
He said, other similar decisions were taken in the past.
“Malaysia had given asylum to leaders of Parti Rakyat Brunei.
“Australia has also given asylum to certain citizens, to certain personalities,” he added, without naming who he meant.
In 2015, Sirul Azhar Umar who was sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006, fled Malaysia and sought a protection visa in Australia. He has since been detained at an immigration centre, as Australian law bars anyone from being deported to another country for an offence punishable by death.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has issued a notice to Naik to return to the country for questioning. Authorities there have also filed a money-laundering case against Naik, while his Mumbai-based outfit Islamic Research Foundation was accused of inciting Muslims and promoting enmity between different communities.
Last weekend, Naik, attending a Perkasa event to confer him with a warrior award, said he would be tortured if he returned to India.
Ibrahim meanwhile hit out at MIC president Dr S Subramaniam’s criticism of Naik, saying the health minister was part of the Cabinet who made the decision to grant PR to Naik.
“If the question was raised by the MIC secretary-general who is not in the Cabinet, then it is different.
“But he is a Cabinet minister. He is bound by the collective decision. If he does not agree, then he should resign.”
On Wednesday, Subramaniam said Naik had no place in Malaysia.
“Is he going to contribute to the advancement of Islam in the country? The answer is no,” he told a dialogue session attended by Indian youths. -FMT