What added value does Dr Zakir Naik bring to our great nation?
This is the question our policymakers should ponder. Is he a unifying force or a force that causes disunity among the people? There exist arguments for and against.
Has Naik brought massive investments to the country? Is Naik capable of convincing Arab nations that Malaysia, being a Muslim country, could do with their financial support, confidence and belief? I think not.
So what are the positives that the likes of Naik could ever bring to our shores? At least former prime minister Najib Razak convinced the Saudi royal family to “donate” billions of dollars to Malaysia in its quest to stave off terrorism! (That’s what we have been told.) If we go by reports, unfounded or otherwise, many of Naik’s speeches were instigative of terrorism in countries such as Bangladesh and India.
Dennis Ignatius wrote that Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sudden concerns about the Indian justice system leave much to be desired. He hit the nail on the head in his arguments which were well thought-out and organised.
That Mahathir is a no-nonsense leader is a fact. Of that, no one should have any doubts. But for reasons best known to Mahathir, he has allowed the issue of Naik to cloud his judgment on what the right thing to do is when dealing with a highly contentious issue such as this. Shouldn’t we be recognising and respecting the rule of law of another country?
We demand the return of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low to face charges in our country but we are reluctant to have Naik sent back to his own to face money laundering charges.
Both Naik and Low believe they will not be given a fair trial in their countries. The difference between the two of them, however, is their circle of friends. While Low starts to come to terms with the fact that one by one, his friends are being hunted down like ducks in hunting season, Naik continues to bask in the glory of being surrounded by powerful and influential friends.
But the question remains: why this special treatment for Naik? Would he be an asset to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government by being able to influence the voters in any way in the future? Perhaps.
Assuming that the outcome of GE15 hinges on who wins the hearts and minds of the Malay-Muslim voters, maybe Naik with all his talks and teachings could be an asset to the ruling coalition albeit at the expense of, possibly, the other communities and more rational minds. It could also cost PH thousands of votes.
Naik is for now living in a bubble which the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to put up with.
If Naik is a pawn in a power game, he is either fully aware of it or blinded to it. Either way suits him fine.
Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.