KUALA LUMPUR – Human rights activist Datuk  Ambiga Sreenevasan has chided  Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman for hosting televangelist Dr Zakir Naik, merely days after asking for his deportation.

The prominent lawyer also called the first-term minister’s statement for Malaysians to “move on” after Dr Zakir’s so-called apology as a mere capitulation.

“This does not heal! Your first instincts were right. This is a capitulation by you so we don’t need the drivel about apologies et cetera.

“It’s insulting. You’re one of my favourite ministers and this is dissapointing,” Ambiga wrote on Twitter.

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.

Syed Saddiq yesterday said that Malaysians must now move on instead of fixating over Dr Zakir Naik’s controversial remarks.

This comes barely a week after Syed Saddiq himself had called for the fugitive preacher to be deported over his alleged inflammatory speeches.


Syed Saddiq


Tidak perlu nak mendabik dada & mengeruhkan keadaan lagi. Let’s move on. The country needs healing!


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Photos of Syed Saddiq having dinner with Dr Zakir was also posted on Twitter and Instagram.

Syed Saddiq’s posts were published even as the police have barred Dr Zakir from making any speech in Malaysia, even on social media, while the fugitive preacher is being investigated over his remarks.

Previously, Malaysia’s youngest minister had joined the ranks of his Cabinet colleagues including Communication and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh, Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister A. Xavier Jayakumar, demanding Dr Zakir’s deportation.

Dr Zakir had in a speech in Kelantan allegedly accused Malaysian Hindus of being more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and allegedly said the ethnic Chinese “guests” here, should go back, after calls for him to be deported.

MIC disappointed with PAS in Zakir Naik debacle

MIC has expressed its dissatisfaction with PAS’ handling of the recent controversy surrounding Dr Zakir Naik.

Party president SA Vigneswaran said PAS leaders should have advised the Islamic preacher to respect the various races in the country “instead of encouraging him to make things worse.”

“MIC has not changed its stand on the issue, even though we are cooperating (politically) with Umno and PAS,” he said in his speech at the 73rd MIC annual general assembly held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Although PAS and MIC have been politically opposed to each other for years, both have begun working together with Umno officially forging closer ties with the Islamist party.

During a recent visit to the MIC headquarters, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang even likened the relationship between both parties to a “family” composed of multiple races coming together for a common cause.

‘Not concerned about Zakir’

Zakir irked many after speaking at a dialogue hosted by the PAS Kelantan government earlier this month.

The preacher is currently being investigated by police for seemingly questioning the loyalty of Hindu Malaysians, and for deeming Chinese Malaysians “old guests” who should leave the country before he does.

This led to calls for him to be deported to his home country of India, where is he wanted on several charges related to money laundering and terrorism, or for his permanent residency to be revoked.

Zakir has denied any wrongdoing back in India. He has also since apologised for his recent remarks in Malaysia, but maintained they had been taken out of context.

‘No qualms’

At the AGM, Vigneswaran (photo) said his party has no qualms about Zakir’s presence in Malaysia, so long as the preacher does not raise any racial issues.

MIC will leave it to Putrajaya to decide on whether to extradite the televangelist or revoke his PR, he added.

“We are not against any preacher. No one is questioning the beauty and purity of Islam. What we want is for him (Zakir) not to cause racial tension.

“To us, he has apologised. We just ask he does not touch on issues concerning other races or religions,” he stressed.

In the wake of the ceramah in Kelantan, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that Zakir had crossed the line by commenting on racial politics, but that he had not changed his stance on the preacher remaining in the country for now.

He added that the status of Zakir’s PR would depend on the outcome of the police probe into the remarks.

Mahathir previously maintained that Zakir would not be deported as long as he did not break any laws in Malaysia, and as his safety would be at risk if he was sent back to India.

‘Not the right time’ for Jawi

Meanwhile, Vigneswaran criticised Pakatan Harapan leaders who blamed the previous BN government for the introduction of khat or Jawi calligraphy lessons in the Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.

“Don’t blame BN. BN’s decision to introduce Jawi (in schools) was only at the policy stage.

“If the rakyat cannot accept it, just cancel the policy. It’s not hard to withdraw a government policy.

“It isn’t an act which must be taken to Parliament, you can do so in cabinet,” he said.

Vigneswaran said MIC had no objection to the introduction of Jawi lessons, but felt the matter needed more awareness before being implemented.

“It was not the right time,” he stressed.

Following opposition from various quarters, the Education Ministry announced a compromise, whereby Jawi lessons would only be taught to Standard Four students with prior approval of parent-teacher associations, parents and pupils.

For the record, MIC also discussed several amendments to its constitution at the AGM last night. Among these is to allow individuals as young as 16 to join the party.

On Friday, several hundred protesters gathered peacefully at Brickfields to protest the introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools.

It was meant to be the first of two protests, but the second, which was slated to take place yesterday, ended up being cancelled.

The second was to address a variety of issues, including Zakir’s continued presence in Malaysia, the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam, the distribution and alleged misappropriation of funds allocated to the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra), the issue of statelessness among the Indian community, as well to continue the protest against khat.

– M’kini