Since the early dynasties of China, there has been connection between China and various early kingdoms in the Malay Archipelago. The first recorded movement of people from China into the present-territory of Malaysia was during the arrival of Mongol expeditionary forces under Kublai Khan to Borneo in 1292. Unofficially, the arrival of Chinese in the region could be earlier.
Zheng He, a Chinese explorer, visited Malacca in his third voyage during his expeditions to the Southeastern Asia between 1405 and 1430. When his fleet arrived in Malacca, there was already a sizable Chinese community. Following the conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511, many Chinese traders avoided Malacca although the flow of emigrants from China continued.
When the Dutch took Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641, many local Malaccan Chinese are hired for the construction of Dutch buildings. The Dutch found the Chinese people as industrious and encouraged their participation in the economic life of Dutch colony. The Dutch subsequently suggested to the 17th Sultan of Perak, Alauddin, to allow the Chinese to develop tin mines.
The Sultan of Perak warmly welcomed the idea and even encouraged the scheme so much so he requested for more Chinese workforce to be sent from Malacca and promised to punish any official who found guilty of mistreating the Chinese. The opening of British settlement in Penang (1786) and Singapore (1819) triggered a large movement of people from China to the Malay Peninsula.
Following the establishment of British rule in Labuan in 1846, more Chinese arrived to the British Borneo part of North Borneo. In 1876, Rajah Charles further invited Chinese-pepper grower from Singapore to settle in Kuching which later being joined by local Chinese miners others from neighbouring Dutch Borneo. In short, Chinese has existed for centuries in Malaysia.
So, from which generation of Chinese that Zakir Naik, the controversial Indian Islamic preacher accused of spreading hate speech, laundering money, and funding terrorism wanted to be expelled from Malaysia? To be an instigator is one thing, but to be ignorant of the history of the country that is hosting him is another thing altogether.
Zakir, a Malaysian permanent resident, was apparently upset with calls for his deportation. Hence he justified his presence by telling the Malaysian Chinese to “go back” first as they were the “old guests” of the country. He said – “… Later on, more people came and Malaysia became fully Muslim. Then you have the Chinese coming, the Indian coming, the British coming. They are our new guests.”
The preacher, who is an Indian citizen, said at the “Executive Talk bersama Dr Zakir Naik” in Kota Baru, Kelantan last Thursday (Aug 8) – “People call me a guest. So I said, before me, the Chinese were the guests. They aren’t born here. If you want the new guest to go first, then ask the old guests to go back. The Chinese weren’t born here, most of them. Maybe the new generation, yes.”
Seriously? Did Zakir really say – “They are our new guests” – indicating that a permanent resident like he has been automatically promoted and enjoys the same status as Bumiputera (son of the soil), even higher class than the centuries-old ethnic Chinese who suddenly become slaves subject to Zakir’s insult and humiliation?
Perhaps Zakir had been fed with half-baked story by opposition PAS Islamist party. As confessed by Raja Petra Kamarudin of Malaysia Today, while his ancestors came to Selangor in the 1700s, Tian Chua’s ancestors arrived in Malacca in the 1500s. So, how could Zakir say that the Chinese weren’t born in Malaysia, thus are merely guests in the country?
True, someone like Raja Petra is accorded first class citizen and is known as “son of the soil” while Tian Chua, despite his ancestors arrived 200 years earlier, is still considered “a pendatang (immigrant)” and treated as second-class citizen. That’s because Raja Petra is a Muslim while Tian Chua is not. Still, Tian Chua is a legitimate citizen of Malaysia, certainly not “a guest”.
Who is Zakir to tell the minority Chinese to go back to China? It’s safe to say that every single Chinese that he sees today was born, raised and educated in this country, not to mention faithfully pay their taxes and spoke the national language – Bahasa Malaysia. In comparison, Zakir is a foreign fugitive who could not even speak the Malay language, let alone pay any taxes since he arrived.
Obviously, the fugitive was emboldened and encouraged by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has refused to deport the troublemaker since taking over the new government. However, the premier said that Malaysia would not deport Zakir “as long as he is not creating any problems” in the country. But it seems the radical preacher is biting more than he can chew.
Will Mahathir continue to protect Zakir, until such day the snake oil salesman inspires Muslims in the country to engage in Jihad and start suicide bombingmissions against fellow non-Muslim citizens? In spite of his stubbornness to harbour and protect the dangerous preacher, the 94-year-old premier is running out of excuses not to deport him.
Mahathir had likened his stance to how Australia declined to send back a Malaysian fugitive, Sirul Azhar Umar, as Canberra was worried that the man would be hanged in Malaysia. The old man conveniently ignored that Australia has refused to send Sirul back to Malaysia because the country practises capital punishment, while Zakir has not even been put on trial.
However, after news broke that India was seriously considering raising import duties on refined palm oil from Malaysia from 45% to 50% – the same as the duty imposed on the commodity from Indonesia, Mr. Mahathir had twisted a new story. The 94-year-old premier said despite Zakir Naik is an “unwelcome guest” in Malaysia, the hate preacher still can’t be sent away.
Mahathir argued – “We have a multi-racial, multi-religious population in Malaysia. We don’t want anybody who comes up and expresses extreme views about race relations and other religions. But on the other hand, it is difficult to send him anywhere else because many countries do not want to have him.” His statement was an admission that Zakir is indeed an extreme radicalised Muslim.
After Zakir’s recent inflammatory remarks questioning the loyalty of Malaysian Hindus to the country, Mahathir came out with another silly excuse not to send the preacher back to India – “The problem that we face is that we cannot send him back. Because he runs the risk of being killed. So he is here today, but if any country wants to have him, they are welcome to do so.”
Now that the same despicable hate preacher has not only ventured into politics by condemning China for its treatment against Uighur Muslims (giving an impression he had the blessing of Malaysia to do so) but also arrogantly tells the local ethnic Chinese to go back to China as they were merely guests, it’s hard to see how Mahathir can continue protecting the “terrorist”.
This time, Zakir Naik has crossed the red line. He has forgotten that he is still a foreigner and a wanted fugitive. He has disrespected the multiracial and multicultural ways of Malaysia. Although the different races in the country often disagree amongst themselves, the harmony and prosperity are maintained in the multiracial society because Malaysian citizens know the limit.
Even Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, one of Mahathir’s blue-eyed boys, has joined the bandwagon calling for the deportation of Zakir. The Youth and Sports Minister said – “An attack against our Chinese and Indian brothers and sisters is an attack against all Malaysians. It is ridiculous to even think that my fellow Malaysians are my guests. They are my family for god’s sake. Enough is enough.”
In fact, not even veteran politician Rais Yatim, a well known Malay and Islam defender, could stomach the preacher and wanted him to be sent back to India. He said – “Before Zakir Naik lived here, we lived in harmony. Now even the Hindus are being disturbed by his comments that belittle them. Zakir is playing the role of an instigator. It is best if he is sent back to India.”
Similarly, National Patriots Association (Patriot) president Brig-Jen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji said – “Patriot has no issue if Zakir sticks to his Islamic evangelism work, but do not compare religions. Malaysians have learnt that comparing religions are a taboo. Any sensitive issue on the Uighur Muslims is best left to our Foreign Ministry. Patriot would like to see Zakir shut up for now.”
Perhaps the genius Mahathir should be reminded why most of the Muslim countries do not want Zakir Naik, despite the preacher being worshipped like a Prophet by most of the Malay-Muslims in Malaysia. Interestingly, the same preacher boastfully claimed in 2017 that he was offered citizenship by at least 10 Islamic nations. In the same year, Zakir was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.
So, the solution is to revoke Zakir Naik’s permanent resident status following his inflammatory remarks against non-Malays, which is against the Immigration Act 1959/63 – allowing Director General to cancel the permit for prejudicial to public order, public security or morality in Malaysia. The troublemaker can then fly to Saudi or any of the 10 Islamic nations eager to accept him.
– Finance Twitter