Three Indian-origin ministers in Malaysia raised the issue of deporting Zakir Naik to India at a cabinet meeting this week, with one of them saying the matter of the controversial preacher shouldn’t be decided by “one man”.
The remarks by human resources minister M Kulasegaran on Friday came a week after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ruled out handing over Naik to India as long as he doesn’t create problems in Malaysia.
India made a formal request to Malaysia in January to extradite Naik, wanted by New Delhi for allegedly inciting youngsters to join terrorism and for financial irregularities. Naik, a radical television preacher, reportedly left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to largely Muslim Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency.
Kulasegaran and communications minister Gobind Singh Deo both told the Malaysian media they had raised the issue of Naik at a cabinet meeting on July 11 along with natural resources minister Xavier Jayakumar.
“We, unlike the previous Barisan Nasional government, raised the matter in cabinet. We discussed it and concluded that we will ask the attorney general if there is any formal request from India (for extradition),” Kulasegaran said in a statement.
“Let the Indian government make the necessary deportation order, and we will follow the rule of law. The bottom line is that the Indian government must make that request,” he added.
“This is the right way of doing things, it is not right for the government nor one man to decide this matter. It should be decided by law in the courts as they have the duty to dispense justice,” said Kulasegaran, who is a known critic of Naik.
Deo said on Thursday the government will act on the basis of “rule of law” in the case of Naik.
“So, I think what needs to be done is once the case is put forward, the decision will be made whether to send him back or not,” he added.
Deo further said, “As far as I am concerned, if India or another country is able to make out the case that warrants a person to be sent back, the government should act accordingly.”
Kulasegaran also said that when he goes to India and “if I have the chance to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I will discuss this matter with him as well”.
Naik, who met Mahathir last week, has expressed his gratitude to the prime minister for allowing him to remain in the country and examining his case from an “unbiased perspective”.