By P Ramasamy
Within just a matter of days in Malaysia, Dr Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher from India, has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he can also be a politician.
No ordinary politician mind you, but one who came into the country ostensibly to deliver lectures on Islam but whose real purpose was to lend “credibility” and “legitimacy” to none other than Umno.
The timing of his visit is no accident. He was invited at a time when Umno leaders are experiencing a major fallout with the rakyat as a result of the financial scandals associated with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s receipt of funds into his personal accounts.
The initial well-attended religious lectures by Zakir were used as a smokescreen to camouflage the real intentions behind his visit.
It was just a matter of days however before Zakir’s true intentions were laid bare for all to see – his lectures and talks were all tailored to suit the larger political interests of Umno.
Zakir would not have come into the country without the support of key Umno leaders, who did this even at the expense of alienating the non-Muslim population.
Even the fears of the police were cast aside in Umno’s game plan. Being desperate, they have had to do some desperate things.
Once the lectures were over with a few “conversions”, then it was Zakir’s turn to pay back his kindness to Umno and by extension PAS.
To be expected, he called for both Umno and PAS to merge to strengthen Islam in Malaysia. He said even if they did not merge, they should come together in a sort of political embrace to give vitality and meaning to Islam in Malaysia.
Whether both the parties will agree to this proposal remains to be seen. However, since both are suffering from a deficit in Malay-Muslim support, then if the situation gets desperate, they just might resort to doing some desperate things.
Why did Zakir leave out the other two Muslim/Islamic political parties who are on the opposite side of the political divide, namely PKR and Parti Amanah Negara?
Since he is talking about Muslims and their interests, why did he not call for the merger of all Malay or Islamic political parties in the country to strengthen Islam and the community?
The minute Zakir ventured into the “forbidden” territory of politics, his Islamic credentials came under question. In other words, Zakir, despite his Islamic credentials is just an ordinary politician and who will play politics when it suits him. How is he different from others? Who financed his trip and stay in Malaysia? If Umno is the main beneficiary of Zakir’s visit then the answer is clear.
If Umno had anything to do with his visit, surely he would not be in a position to talk about Muslim political parties that are in opposition to Umno. Just imagine what would have happened to Zakir if he had supported the merger of the Muslim/Islamic political parties in Pakatan Harapan to strengthen Islam in the country. The authorities would have given him the boot immediately.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
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