KUALA LUMPUR: Controversial preacher Zakir Naik told the High Court he did not play any part in the government’s arrest of 12 individuals over their purported links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
In a witness statement tendered as evidence in his defamation suit against former Klang MP Charles Santiago, Naik said that the local authorities had in the past arrested those with alleged links to the LTTE.
He added that Santiago’s statement on Nov 25, 2019 – which implied that the arrests of two DAP assemblymen over LTTE links might have been “in retaliation (to) criticisms of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik” – was defamatory of him.
“Therefore, (Santiago’s) allegation against me does not hold water at all, (and) the fact remains that the Malaysian authorities arrested the individuals linked to LTTE independently and on their own accord,” said Naik.
Naik had been slammed earlier in that year for allegedly criticising Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent at an event at a stadium in Kelantan.
The preacher filed the lawsuit against Santiago in 2019, after the latter allegedly linked him to the LTTE arrests. He claimed that the former MP’s remarks had tarnished his reputation.
Naik is seeking an order of damages against Santiago.
The former Klang MP’s defence pleads that his remarks were fair comment and made on an occasion of qualified privilege.
Naik also told the court that he lodged a police report in 2019, naming Santiago, fellow DAP leaders P Ramasamy, Satees Muniandy, and M Kula Segaran as well as former diplomat Dennis Ignatius.
Naik added that following Santiago’s statements, he had found it “difficult to continue with (his) daily activities with (his) family in public” as he feared for his “safety and security”.
He said that after his speech in Kelantan was “twisted” by Santiago, he was forced to issue press releases to explain its real meaning and subsequently had to apologise to the public.
“I was in no position to ridicule or humiliate any race, religion or nation,” said Naik.
The hearing continues before Justice Akhtar Tahir.
Naik has also filed lawsuits against Ramasamy and Satees. An action against Kula Segaran was settled out of court in July last year.
On Feb 21, 2020, then attorney-general Tommy Thomas announced that charges against the 12, including then Gadek assemblyman, G Saminathan, and Seremban Jaya assemblyman, P Gunasekaran, would be dropped.