Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was panned on social media, with some calling him a hypocrite, for making peace and hosting a dinner for controversial preacher Zakir Naik.
Commenters reminded the minister that he was among the first who said Zakir should be deported for “attacking my Chinese and Indian brothers”.
In a surprise turnaround yesterday, Syed Saddiq said in a tweet that people make mistakes and Zakir had apologised, adding that he has made mistakes and felt relieved when reprimanded.
“There’s no need to beat on chests and make the situation worst. Let’s move on and the country needs healing,” tweeted Syed Saddiq.
Reacting to his tweet, lawyer and activist Ambiga Sreenevasan said she was disappointed with the minister whom she counted as one of her favourites.
“This does not heal! Your first instincts were right. This is a capitulation by you so we don’t need the drivel about apologies, etc.
“It’s insulting. You’re one of my favourite ministers and this is disappointing,” Ambiga tweeted in response.
In her next tweet, Ambiga also urged Malaysians to remember “the good things” during National Day and Malaysia Day, citing the results of the 14th general election, and the election of women into positions of power.
“No one can take away our successes. Challenges are there but we also have much to celebrate,” she said.
Reportedly. Saddiq and Zakir had dinner last night at the former’s house in Petaling Jaya, just ten days after the minister called for Zakir to be deported over his remarks about Chinese Malaysians.
The deportation call earned brickbats for Saddiq from some Malay Muslim social media users and sources said he had been taking heat from supporters and Bersatu party members too.
Saddiq posted four photos of him with Zakir, sitting around a dining table chatting with other people.
In his Instagram post last night, Saddiq, who is also Bersatu Youth chief, said it was time to move on.
He stressed that national unity was a strength and that each race had made its own contributions to the country.
“Malaysia is a country that is racially and religiously diverse. We believe in moderation over extremism.
“Unity in diversity. Stronger, together, forever,” he said.