Hindraf: Did previous home minister intervene over Zakir Naik PR?

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PETALING JAYA: Hindraf wants to know if the previous home minister exempted Islamic preacher Zakir Naik from the criteria governing the issuance of permanent resident (PR) status in Malaysia.

In a statement today, its chairman P Waythamoorthy referred to the criteria listed on the immigration website.

According to the website, he said, any foreign national intending to enter and reside in Malaysia as a permanent resident should apply for an entry permit in accordance with Section 10 of the Immigration Act and Regulation 4 of the Immigration Regulations 1963.

“There must be clarity on what basis Zakir had obtained his PR.

“Is it as an individual with minimum deposit of US$2 million, an expert or a professional?” he asked, adding that the authorities who had verified Naik’s credentials must also be brought to light.

“Unless alternatively, the previous home minister had decided to invoke Section 55 of the Immigration Act with the power to exempt. If so, is there a gazette to support it as required, and what is its basis?”

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters that the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) founder had been given PR status for more than five years, before he was in charge of the home ministry.

Zahid was appointed home minister in the new cabinet announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak after Barisan Nasional won the last general election (GE13) in May 2013. He took over from Hishammuddin Hussein, who is now defence minister and special functions minister.

Today, Waythamoorthy said he did not see how Naik would have fulfilled the requirements, which included a certain period of continuous residency and proficiency in Malay.

“When I was a deputy minister in the prime minister’s department, I had provided a comprehensive white paper to resolve the situation of some 300,000 stateless Indians who had lived in the country since its independence, yet it was brushed aside,” Waythamoorthy said.

“Now, we have the current administration, which we believe is acting ultra vires by circumventing the constitution and its requirement as seen in the case of Zakir Naik, without any accountability and responsibility towards the nation and its people.”

He called for Zahid to clarify the matter and explain how Naik had obtained PR status “under the radar” while “rightfully entitled, stateless (members of the) Indian community languish in a pit hole”.