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 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!”
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.
“I am in Japan now on official business. As soon as I return to my motherland, I’ll defend the unfounded allegations against me without fear.
“I welcome this opportunity to confront bigotry and the anti-Malaysian sentiment on behalf of the people who voted for me and who rely on me to safeguard this country.”
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 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.
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.
Meanwhile, DAP’s P Ramasamy today said he welcomed the police report lodged by Zakir against him and four others for alleged defamation and is prepared to face the controversial preacher in court.
Ramasamy, who is Penang deputy chief minister II, said his battle with Zakir is not a personal one but “in the larger interests of Malaysians who want peace and harmony in a country free of hatred and malice”.
Yesterday, Zakir lodged a police report against Ramasamy, Kulasegaran, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy and former ambassador Dennis Ignatius, claiming they had made defamatory statements against him.
In a statement today, Ramasamy said Zakir had lodged the report against them for allegedly misinterpreting his speech in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, on Aug 8.
“In his report, he said that he was misquoted to give the impression that he had slandered the Indian community to the extent that he questioned their loyalty.
“I welcome the police report against me and the others. I can’t wait for the legal notice threatening (to sue) me for defamation,” he said, adding that he was prepared to go to court.
“Naik, please take me on,” he added.
Yesterday, Santiago also said that Zakir had every right to lodge a police report against him and promised to cooperate with the authorities.
“And I will prove that I did not misquote Dr Naik,” he said in a Facebook post.
Separately, Zakir spent more than five hours yesterday giving his statement to police at Bukit Aman, believed to be over remarks he made in Kota Bharu.
He has been summoned to be at the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters on Monday for more questioning.
“He (Zakir) was accompanied by his lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader. The procedure will continue on August 19 at 3pm as Zakir sought an adjournment (on Friday) to break fast,” said Federal CID director Huzir Mohamed.