KUALA LUMPUR: Umno and PAS are trying to “make use” of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik for their political agenda, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad said.
“We take the approach that we want to ‘save’ him (Naik) and provide him protection.
“If we think of his interest, we will not use him for local politics, and those who are trying to make use of him are playing with the religious sentiment,” he said after launching an upcoming town hall event at Kampung Baru today.
Khalid, who was asked to comment on a suggestion for a rally by Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, said Naik should not allow himself to be used as a “tool” for political parties.
“We advise him not to be used by others,” he said.
Naik is wanted by the Indian government for charges connected to money laundering and terrorism-related activities.
Previously, Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said the government had no choice but to allow Naik, who has permanent resident status, to remain in Malaysia as other countries were not keen to accept him.
But this week, he said the government would revoke Naik’s PR status if his actions were found to be detrimental to the well-being of the country.
Naik recently courted controversy when he touched on the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus to Mahathir as prime minister.
In a speech in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, he reportedly claimed that Malaysian Hindus were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Mahathir despite receiving “100 times” more rights than Muslims in India.
He later accused his critics of quoting him out of context.
He was also quoted as saying that the Chinese in Malaysia were considered “guests” in the country.
Naik spent more than five hours at Bukit Aman on Friday to give a statement, and police said they would continue to question him tomorrow.
Kampung Baru to be redeveloped
On a separate matter, Khalid said the government is planning redevelop Kampung Baru.
The redevelopment project, expected to cost between RM6 billion and RM10 billion, will see the government buying the land and subsequently selling it back to the residents.
He said the project is aimed at providing viable residential areas for the Malay community in the city centre.
Khalid said Kampung Baru was perceived to be an area with narrow roads, unhygienic environment and drainage problems.
“This is the government’s concerted effort to bring changes to the local people and land owners in line with other development in the city,” he said.
He said the government will hold a town hall session with the stakeholders on Sept 21 to brief them on the redevelopment plan.
“We will do this in a transparent manner and get all the owners involved. This is not about the government taking or selling land or city parks,” he said.