PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today questioned Putrajaya’s double standards in deporting a woman wanted by Thailand while resisting attempts to deport preacher Zakir Naik who is facing criminal charges in India.
N Sivananthan, the first Malaysian to become an International Criminal Court counsel, said the government should apply the same principle on Naik, as it did in deporting Praphan Pipithnamporn, who is likely to face charges over her anti-monarchy views.
“If India puts in a request we have to deport him. And if Naik wants to challenge the deportation, he can do so, but he must be held in custody pending disposal of any extradition proceedings,” he told FMT.
Praphan was repatriated last week after she was arrested by Malaysian police in April upon Thailand’s request.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the move, despite coming under criticism from rights groups who warned that Praphan could be subjected to an unfair trial under Thailand’s tough lese-majeste laws.
“If there is a request, we have no choice but to send her back,” the prime minister told reporters today.
Naik, who has a Malaysian permanent residence status, has been on the run from Indian authorities, but has found support among senior leaders from both the previous Barisan Nasional government and Pakatan Harapan.
Last year, Mahathir said that the government would allow Naik to stay as long as he did not break the law.
On May 2, India’s Enforcement Directorate charged him in absentia with money laundering, accusing him of acquiring about Rs1.9 billion (RM114.5 million) worth of criminal assets.
The agency said Naik had made “inflammatory speeches and lectures” which incited a number of Muslim youths in India to commit terrorist acts.
Naik has strongly denied the accusations, and has evaded Indian authorities who have been seeking to deport him from Malaysia.
Sivananthan said Malaysia is obliged to deport Naik now that Interpol had taken up India’s request for a red notice against him.
“I don’t think we have a choice. We cannot not enforce it,” he said.
He warned that if Malaysia chose to ignore a red notice by Interpol, other member states might do the same should a similar notice be issued for individuals on Putrajaya’s wanted list, including Low Taek Jho, the fugitive businessman at the centre of the 1MDB scandal.
“I don’t think we are in a position to make any adjudication on those alleged crimes at this stage. It would be most unfortunate if we seek Interpol’s help on the one hand but refuse to assist on the other.”