PUTRAJAYA – Islamic Research Foundation president Dr Zakir Naik has permanent resident (PR) status in Malaysia, given to him about five years ago.
Confirming this, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Malaysia, however, is not the only country in which the controversial Muslim preacher resides.
“Zakir Naik has a Malaysian PR but he is not a citizen, and he stays in other countries, I reckon,” he told the media on Tuesday.
In November 2016, the Home Ministry denied Indian media reports that the televangelist had been granted Malaysian citizenship as a “package deal” when he was given the Tokoh Maal Hijrah award here in 2013.
On April 15, the Hindustan Times reported that the Indian enforcement directorate had filed a charge sheet against Aamir Gazdar, a confidante of Dr Zakir, and Dr Zakir’s company Harmony Media Ltd, for allegedly laundering money on his behalf.
The 1,000-page charge sheet lists Dr Zakir as an accused in the case.
The Times of India has also reported that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will seek an Interpol “red corner notice” against Dr Zakir to curb his movements outside Saudi Arabia if he fails to turn up for questioning.
A red corner notice is an international arrest warrant circulated by Interpol on behalf of a government.
This came after the televangelist defied repeated summonses.
PR STATUS GIVEN 5 YEARS AGO DURING PREVIOUS HOME MINISTER HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN’S TIME
MEANWHILE, according to Malaysiakini:
Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik has been holding permanent residence status in Malaysia since about five years ago.
This was revealed by deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when met by reporters in Putrajaya today.
“I would like to confirm that he holds a permanent residence status in Malaysia. But he is not a Malaysian citizen.
“I think he has been holding the status since about five years ago. That was before I became Home Minister,” said Zahid.
Zahid was queried over Zakir’s status in Malaysia after the latter had during a dialogue session in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday said he was willing to be questioned by investigators from India on “neutral ground” such as Malaysia.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) is seeking an Interpol red notice against Zakir.
Zahid also said that Malaysia will cooperate with India on any investigations against Zakir through the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) mechanism.
“The investigations can’t be carried out by Malaysia.
“But an MLA can be obtained if the country (India) has a relationship, an agreement with us,” he said.
Asked whether there has been a request to extradite Zakir, Zahid however said that the preacher is not staying in Malaysia.
“We follow the existing legal system and the framework for diplomatic relationship with any countries,” he added.
Zakir has been a frequent visitor of Indonesia and Malaysia of late, and is believed to be based in Saudi Arabia.
Several Malaysian activists have filed a suit to compel Putrajaya to bar Zakir from entering Malaysia on grounds that his speeches were a threat to national security, harmony and unity.