Why is Zakir Naik still in our country? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Malaysiakini : “You perceive the force of a word. He who wants to persuade should
put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The
power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense... Give
me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.”- Joseph Conrad, author
COMMENT | It is really a funny question, right? When I say “our” and there are people who were born here, like Letchumie Sinnan
who has been given the run around by the bureaucracy for 20 years and
been stuck in permanent resident limbo, while a demagogue, alleged money
launderer and extremist sympathiser like Zakir Naik get feted by the
political and social elite.
Meanwhile, there are thousands of Indians and Chinese who have to eke
out a living and contribute to the economy but are not considered
citizens of this country. Over the years, I have met and attempted to
help - in my own small ineffectual way - dozens of Malaysians to get
their MyKad. It is really galling to witness a religious hatemonger like
Zakir Naik being defended by the political elite in this country of the
Islamic persuasion, while so many - a legion, I would say - have no one
to speak up for them.
The fact there are Indians and Chinese in this country who are
considered, for whatever reasons, permanent residents (if they are
lucky) and the state wilfully refuses to recognise them as citizens,
while Zakir Naik gets to spread his horse manure in comfort, is an
insult for anyone who has served this country, either in the state
security apparatus, in the teaching profession or whatever else capacity
that has made this country what it is today.
Let me say this. I bet my last ringgit that all these Malaysians who
have been denied their citizenship, who have been given the run around
by the bureaucracy and who toil in menial jobs unable to get a foothold,
I bet that they have contributed more to this country than the radicals
like Zakir Naik. All those people I have attempted to help over the
years display a profound love and loyalty to this county, even though
they have been marginalised.
Someone like me often wonders, how could you love this country when
it doesn’t even recognise you? How can you be loyal to this country when
it has willfully abandoned you? We live in a great country is their
common refrain. Yeah, a great country, where the likes of Zakir Naik get
to say what he likes and (now) to be deported only if he misbehaves.
Tell me, what does “not creating problems” mean? What would it take for Zakir Naik to be kicked out of this country? What exactly is the threshold here? We all know that Zakir Naik uses words to instigate, demean and mock
other cultures and religions. We know that his words are meaningful to
large sections of the Malay polity, even though they may not understand
We know that he remains unrepentant since he has probably met with
every Malay power broker of note in this country. So, what exactly does
misbehaving mean? His kind of Islam is supposedly the antithesis of the
kind of Islam Harapan wants to propagate. Or is it?
Kudos to P Ramasamy, the Penang deputy chief minister II, for giving it his all
when it comes to the extradition of Zakir Naik. What I want to know is
why aren’t the rest of the Harapan gang coming out with a unified
comment on this issue. Are the major power players in Harapan reserving
comment? Are they too busy, thinking up ways of how not to spook the
Freedom of speech?
Every time I write about Zakir Naik, I get many emails from people –
Malays – berating me for insulting this man. I sincerely do not get it.
When I provide evidence – Zakir Naik’s own words – of the racist,
bigoted and inflammatory speeches he has made, it is ignored. When I
explain why non-Muslims would be offended by what he says about our
religions, it is ignored or dismissed, as not understanding his intent.
When I attempt to provide an analysis of why, even if you were not
religious, Zakir Naik’s words amount to incitement against secular
democracies, I am told that he is an expert and thus qualified to speak
about everything under the sun. Why do we need this man in our country?
What possible service has he done for Malaysians that warrant the
political elite to think of him as someone who is an asset to this
And here's the thing, if there was freedom of speech like the kind
Zakir Naik has for everyone, nobody would have an issue with him. But we
have blatant double standards that border on malicious. It is the smirk
which tells us that he can say things without consequences but the
‘kafirs’ have to take it.
The last time I wondered if Zakir Naik was a security threat, I got hate mail up the wazoo. Here’s what I wrote
- “However, Zakir is a special case. In a time when the Islamist agenda
in this country is taking new forms and the agenda is promulgated by
new alliances, a preacher like Zakir who specialises in deepening
already established cultural and religious rifts is a threat to national
I get it. I see all these huge rallies, and the Malay/Muslim hegemons
don’t want to be the Muslims who deported Zakir Naik to India. The
country, which even our local preacher took a dig
at in a poem which managed to insult the Hindu community, but he
insisted was a personal letter to the prime minister of India. Nobody
wants to be the pious Malay/Muslim political leader who said that Zakir
Naik does not belong in this country. Ramasamy (photo above) hammers the point home when he
reminds the Malaysian government that they deported Chinese Uighurs and
Sri Lankan Tamils back to their countries of origin.
What is the hold up
with Zakir Naik? Why is he a special case? You know what I think. I think the reason why Zakir Naik is not
deported – secret deal or not – is that the Malaysian government does
not consider what he is alleged to have done in India a crime. They
probably justify those charges as religious persecution against a
beloved Muslim preacher. They probably think that anyone who disagrees
with what Zakir Naik says is Islamophobic.
Why is it, for some people, the beauty of their religion is only found in the vilification of other religions?