Dr M told not to compare Zakir’s case with Sirul’s.
Hundreds of online commentators from India have called for their government to launch a boycott of trade and tourism with Malaysia in response to Putrajaya’s refusal to extradite wanted Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.
In the comments section of an article in the Times of India, internet users expressed their anger at Malaysia’s stance with regard to Zakir’s repatriation.
‘BitterTruth’ urged the Indian government to “stop trade with Malaysia”, a call echoed by many angry commentators.
Shastri Sharat said the results can be seen if India stops importing palm oil from Malaysia, which is the second largest crude palm oil producer in the world.
India is one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners, with trade between the two countries increasing from just US$600 million in 1992 to US$13.32 billion in 2012.
In 2017, both countries signed a new business deal amounting to US$36 billion (RM152 billion) with the exchange of 31 business memorandum of understanding (MoUs), the largest in the history of economic relations between the two.
India is also the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils, with palm oil making up some 80% of its annual import of almost nine million tonnes of edible oils.
Another internet user, Aniket Mahajan, said Indian travel companies should boycott Malaysia.
“Indians should avoid Malaysia for tourism. And decrease trade with them. Keeping one who breeds hate will affect other religions in their country and in longer run will impact Malaysia and their citizens,” said IndianOneIndia.
Manoj Gupta said Indians make up a large percentage of tourist arrivals in Malaysia and should boycott the country to show their protest.
Malaysia recently revealed that the number of Indian tourists grew from 552,000 in 2017 to 600,000 in 2018.
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to secure an arrest warrant against Zakir and others in an ongoing trial heard by a special court in Mumbai under its Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
The Indian government regards Naik as a “hate preacher” who has allegedly incited listeners to terrorism.
The controversial televangelist left India in 2016 and has been staying in Malaysia under a permanent residency (PR).
India recently obtained a non-bailable warrant for the Islamic preacher, which allows the agency to apply to Interpol for a red notice placing Zakir on a wanted list.
Malaysia is an Interpol member and has also signed an extradition treaty with India.
However, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Malaysia has the right not to extradite Zakir if he is not going to be accorded justice.
“Zakir, in general, feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” Dr Mahathir said.
Before repatriating Zakir, Malaysia must first be assured that he will receive fair treatment once he is deported, the prime minister said.
He also compared Zakir’s situation with Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul Azhar Umar, who is facing the death penalty after being convicted with the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows,” he said.
According to Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, there were differences in the two cases and the prime minister’s comparison between them is “misconceived”.
He said Sirul has been convicted by Malaysia’s apex court for murdering Altantuya, while Zakir has yet to be convicted of alleged money laundering offences.
“It is clear that Sirul has exhausted all his legal avenues and remains a convict facing the death penalty whereas Zakir has not been convicted and only faces a trial in India for now,” Ramkarpal said in a statement on Monday (June 10).
He also pointed out that Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul is not on account of his inability to receive a fair trial, but because he faces the death penalty as he has been convicted.
“Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India.
“Countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation,” Ramkarpal said.
He also noted that Malaysia repatriated Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thailand upon a request made by that country in May, despite fears that Praphan would not receive a fair trial under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws.
“The position is the same in Zakir’s case. Zakir faces criminal charges in India and may well be acquitted if he successfully defends himself there.
“Malaysia’s reluctance and possible refusal to repatriate Zakir to India if India requests the same can also cause unnecessary tensions in bilateral relations between the two countries.
“Such an outcome would certainly not be in the best interests of both countries and Malaysia should repatriate Zakir to his country to face the charges levelled against him there,” he said.
Earlier report: Jun 10, India Seeks Arrest Warrant for Zakir Naik