PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Siti Kasim has criticised the government’s move to give permanent resident (PR) status to controversial preacher Zakir Naik, when numerous ethnic Indians in Malaysia are stateless.
She said 300,000 Indians of Hindu and Muslim faiths have not been given citizenship although they have resided in the country for ages.
“They only have PR status although they have been living here for decades. The government is delaying their citizenship,” she told FMT.
“So why the need to add one more Indian (Naik) by giving him PR?” she added.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier today disclosed that Naik obtained his PR more than five years ago.
He said this was before he assumed the home minister’s post in May 2013, after succeeding Hishammuddin Hussein.
The government awarded Naik the “Tokoh Maal Hijrah” award in November 2013.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sought Interpol’s help to issue a Red Notice (equivalent to an international arrest warrant) to question Naik on alleged money-laundering activities in India.
In November last year, India banned Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) for five years, citing his “objectionable and subversive” speeches.
On March 1 this year, Siti and 18 individuals filed a suit against the Malaysian government at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry for allegedly harbouring the preacher.
They said he encouraged terrorism in public and that his presence in Malaysia was a serious threat to the country’s safety.
“What is the justification for giving PR to Zakir Naik?” Siti asked, pointing out that the controversial Islamic preacher was a wanted man.
She added that he had been barred from entering several countries, including the UK and Canada.
“What is his contribution to Malaysia?” Siti asked.
Naik yesterday told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur that the Indian authorities could interview him in Malaysia or over a medium like Skype. He also claimed he would be tortured if he returned to India.