Santiago rejects Zakir Naik’s call to apologise for linking him to LTTE arrests

Klang MP Charles Santiago.

PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago is standing by his statement made against preacher Zakir Naik and won’t be apologising for his remarks.

Naik had claimed that the MP had linked him to the arrests of two DAP men, allegedly over links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

A statement issued by his lawyers, SN Fam & Co, today said Santiago’s alleged defamatory statements “are fair and bonafide comments on matters of public interest”.

“As an elected MP, our client has a duty and is obliged to voice out in respect of national issues, including matters relating to the decisions made by the government and any public authority.

“The alleged defamatory statements are an expression of our client’s opinion, having regard to such facts relating to the two DAP assemblymen under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma and the timing of the arrests, which was on the eve of the 2020 Budget.

“The statement by our client on the use of Sosma as a tool to punish those who spoke against Naik and arrest the two DAP assemblymen was in fact questioning the decision made by the authorities in using the draconian act. ”

It said Santiago was questioning the authorities as an MP on the investigation, “failure by the police to produce any evidence and the justification of the said arrests under Sosma”.

Naik had yesterday threatened legal action against Santiago for defamation.

The impugned statements were said to have been made on Tuesday.

In a notice of demand, Naik’s lawyers claimed that Santiago’s statements depicted that the preacher had “back-door dealings” with the authorities, manipulating them to distract attention from him after he had generated controversy a few months ago.

Naik’s lawyers also said the alleged statements portrayed Naik as being the “mastermind” of the arrests.

They said “the defamatory statements are unfounded, fabricated, untrue and entirely fictitious”.

Naik urged Santiago to retract his statements and for the article to be taken down, while demanding that a public apology from the MP be published within 48 hours of receipt of the letter.