KUALA LUMPUR: Klang MP Charles Santiago was questioned at Bukit Aman today over his statement calling for Cabinet action against controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
He was questioned for about one-and-a-half hours under Section 500 and 504 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation and intention to cause unrest.
Emerging from the federal police headquarters at about 2pm, Santiago told reporters he stood by his statement.
He said he was simply doing his duty to advise the Cabinet as an elected representative.
Santiago, who was accompanied by lawyer John Fam, had been summoned by police after reports were lodged against him by Naik and other individuals from all over the country.
He said he was called to clarify a statement he made on Aug 13, titled “Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting must discuss Zakir Naik’s meddling in local politics”, on Facebook, which was subsequently carried by local media.
Santiago said he had called for the Cabinet to discuss statements made by Naik, which he alleged contained “divisive elements”, in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
Naik had been quoted as saying there were Malaysian Indians who were more loyal to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He had also reportedly said the Chinese were also “guests” in the country.
The preacher, however, said his statements were taken out of context.
Fam said Naik had yet to issue a writ of summons against Santiago.
“Section 500 of the Penal Code deals with defamation. Charles has received a letter from the lawyers of Zakir Naik who have demanded for damages and an unqualified apology. The letter was handed to us around a month ago.
“We have replied that there is nothing defamatory. Whatever Charles has said is the truth. It is fair comment and it is justified. And if they would like to proceed with the matter, we are ready to accept service (of the writ).
“Until today, my firm has not received any writ of summons. If we get one, we will act accordingly,” he said.
Santiago is one of five individuals called by police for questioning over their statements relating to Naik. The others are Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran, former ambassador Dennis Ignatius, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy.
Muniandy and Ramasamy were questioned by federal police in Penang last week.
Naik claimed the five had made defamatory statements against him and wanted police to take action under the Penal Code and Sedition Act 1948 for defamation and instigating racial disharmony and hatred among Malaysians.