Charles Santiago: Investigated for Defending United Malaysia

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Klang MP Charles Santiago spent three hours at Bukit Aman earlier today, where he was quizzed on suspicion of defamation and provocation for statements he made regarding controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.

The DAP lawmaker said he was being investigated for fighting for a united Malaysia.

“I was investigated because I fought for unity in Malaysia,” Santiago told reporters outside the federal police headquarters.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“We can’t let a foreign preacher come here and destroy the unity we have built with our blood, sweat, tears and compromise for more than 60 years.” 

Police are looking into Santiago’s statements in which he had urged the cabinet to discuss what he perceived as Zakir meddling in national affairs and questioned why the government was giving him room to preach in Malaysia.

Zakir then lodged police reports against Santiago, as well as Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran, former ambassador Dennis J Ignatius, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy and Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy last month.

The five slammed Zakir for his speech in Kota Baru last month where he said Malaysian Hindus were more loyal to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi than to Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Zakir also said Hindus in India had more rights than Muslims there.

“On Malaysia Day, a lawmaker was called in for investigation,” Santiago said.

“Being an influential Islamic preacher and making such statements will definitely lead to misinterpretation.

“We should celebrate diversity to ensure that we have a place in Malaysia, that is our strength.”

In addition to the police report, Zakir is also seeking an apology and damages from Santiago, whose lawyer John Fam said his client had received the notice, to which they have filed a response.

“The letter was sent a month ago, we have answered, there is no element of defamation in the statement,” said Fam.

“If they want to proceed, we are ready, but we have not received any writ of summons from them to date.”

The National Association of Patriots (Patriot) last week said Zakir’s allegation that five people had defamed him was a civil case, and therefore not appropriate for police to investigate.

Patriot also said it sent a wrong message to the country, at a time when we need to stand united and not allow ethno-religious politicking to rip us apart.

Patriot public communications director Wong Ang Peng said in a letter that it was not for the government to get involved in civil cases concerning the private affairs of individuals. – TMI