Go ahead and sue me for defamation, I’ll see you in court, HR minister tells Zakir Naik

Jerry Choong

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran says he stands by his comments that the India-born Dr Zakir Naik intends to sow discord in Malaysia through public remarks. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran today told Dr Zakir Naik to go ahead and file his defamation lawsuit, adding that he will challenge the Islamic preacher in court.

Kulasegaran, currently in Japan on a working visit, said he stands by his comments that the India-born Dr Zakir intended to sow discord in Malaysia through public remarks.

“Zakir Naik needs to know that there is no necessity to wait for a reply from me. He should advise his lawyers to file proceedings, if he is serious, as I am steadfast in fighting this matter, come what may.

“Rest assured that I will not cower and run to another country to seek refuge. As soon as work is over, I will return to my motherland and defend the unfounded allegations against me without Fear,” he said in a statement.

The Ipoh Barat MP added that he welcomed the “opportunity to confront bigotry and anti-Malaysian sentiment on behalf of the people who voted for me and who rely on me to safeguard this country”.

“In short, my message to Zakir Naik is that I will see him in court!”

Dr Zakir, who is under investigation for intentional insult over remarks made against Indian and Chinese Malaysians during a talk in Kota Baru, Kelantan last week, issued a letter of demand against Kulasegaran yesterday after giving his statement to the police.

The preacher said he will take legal action if the minister refused to apologise and retract his previous remarks.

Kulasegaran made it clear he will not apologise for his remarks, which he said was him “standing up for my fellow Malaysians”.

“Naik was reported to have claimed that Malaysians of Indian origin were more loyal to the Narendra Modi government, while Chinese Malaysians are ‘old guests’ who should go back to their ancestral land.

“This statement by Zakir Naik is most uncalled for, and clearly shows his intentions to sow discord among our multicultural country. This harmony that we have enjoyed is a Malaysian treasure which we should never give up for anyone, much less someone with Naik’s reputation,” the DAP veteran politician said.

He thanked Malaysians for their messages of support, saying he received them from all races and backgrounds and assured them he will fight for their rights “and do all I can to stop anyone who creates a disruption to the unity of Malaysia”.

Kulasegaran was among the first ministers to publicly ask for Dr Zakir to be deported from Malaysia for his provocative remarks. 

Others have suggested the 53-year-old be stripped of his Malaysian permanent residency, awarded in 2015 by the Barisan Nasional government.

Dr Zakir is a fugitive in his native India where he is wanted to face money laundering and terrorism-related charges.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has refused India’s extradition request to send the preacher back where he risks being killed, but has said other countries are welcome to take him in if they like.

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