The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal has already turned Malaysia into a nation of kleptocrats and somewhat a rogue nation in the eyes of the world.
In the United States, this is by and large the biggest case of money laundering that the country has ever seen, considering that the US has existed since 1786. The latest that we have learnt is that they are now filing criminal charges against Jho Low.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Low, a Malaysian who is a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is now a major suspect in a money laundering case involving 1MDB. He is also a person of interest in Singapore.
The money laundering scandal is being investigated in a number of countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, and although the major scandal happened with a Malaysian investment arm under the Ministry of Finance, to date, no one has been prosecuted.
This has put us in a very tight situation. While we are talking about North Korea as a rogue nation because they have yet to return the four suspects in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, we are no better.
Interpol red alert
Although an Interpol red alert has been sought against Zakir Naik under a non-bailable warrant issued by Mumbai's Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, no action has been taken to repatriate him back to India.
This has placed Zakir as a prime suspect in some major money laundering. And, instead of going back to India to contend his case in court, the defiant preacher accused the Indian authorities of having “double motives”.
Malaysians should not be duped by Zakir’s argument that he had offered India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) an interview through video conferencing or phone. No authorities would agree to that.
By remaining here in Malaysia or elsewhere, Zakir is putting more strain on the country’s reputation. Certainly, he does not care as long as he has a place to escape, but it does not go well on his own reputation.
If he has done nothing wrong, he should surrender himself to the Indian authorities and request for the interview to be recorded or observed through glass windows by his lawyers. His defiance puts Zakir in bad light.
Unless he has something to hide, he should not be afraid to face the NIA. The NIA would not have applied for the Interpol red alert unless they have obtained solid evidence against Zakir.
Look at the US Department of Justice. It took time for them to finally arrive at a decision to file criminal charges against Low.
The time will come when the long arm of the law will catch up with Zakir. Zakir will have to eventually face the law, whether now or later.
Fugitives have no credibility
Zakir can continue living as a fugitive, but whatever he preaches will no longer hold water. We are talking common sense, and there is no attempt to belittle any religion. This is a case involving someone who is being pursued by the Indian authorities.
On the back of everyone’s mind is: “Why is this man running away from the authorities? Is he involved in money laundering? Why is he allowed to settle down in Malaysia? Was he also involved either directly or indirectly with the attack on the Artisan Bakery in Gulshan Thana in Dhaka, where 29 people were killed?”
There are only two options for Zakir. Either he continues to live in Malaysia and remain a fugitive, or he to returns to India to face the law enforcers if he believes that he is not guilty of the charges against him - which I think is more honourable for him. There is a Malay saying, “Berani kerana benar” (Be brave if you are right).
I am sure that the Indian authorities would be professional about it and they would record the interview on video; in fact, they would be equally concerned that Zakir turned around and complained of ill-treatment during the interrogation.
As long as Zakir remains in Malaysia, he will drag Malaysia further down. At the back of the minds of the Indian community in this country, it appears that a fugitive is given better protection than the local Indians.
I wish to quote from Hindraf’s chair, P Waythamoorthy who had once trusted Najib during the lead up to the last general election.
Waythamoorthy wrote: “This new plan to launch a new Malaysian Indian Blueprint on April 23 is nothing but to hoodwink the Indians. Najib, enough is enough! Your public apology to the Indians for their four decades of neglect under BN on April 18, 2013, is still fresh in the minds of Indians.
“You and your Umno and MIC ministers have cheated the Indians with your ‘Nambikei’ slogan. Hindraf worked hard to deliver the Indian votes in the earnest belief of finding a permanent and comprehensive solution to the problems faced by the downtrodden.”
Waythamoorthy’s statement is very clear. And by Hindraf’s court case against Zakir, it means that BN will lose more Indian votes this time by protecting Zakir, a foreigner and a wanted person in his own country.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini