PUTRAJAYA: Islamic Research Foundation president Dr Zakir Naik (pic), against whom the Indian government is seeking an Interpol Red Notice, has permanent resident (PR) status in Malaysia.
Confirming this, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia was not the only country the controversial Muslim preacher was residing in.
“Zakir Naik has a Malaysian PR given to him about five years ago before I became the Home Minister.
“But he is not a citizen,” he told reporters after opening an international conference on human ecology here yesterday.
On whether Indian authorities could request to extradite Dr Zakir, he said: “Zakir is also staying in other countries. It is up to the Indian government to ask – not only from Malaysia but also other countries.”
Dr Ahmad Zahid said while there was no basis for Malaysian authorities to initiate an investigation into Dr Zakir, it would render assistance to Indian authorities if both countries had a mutual legal assistance agreement.
On April 15, the Hindustan Times reported that the Indian enforcement directorate had filed a charge 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.
It was also reported that the country’s National Investigation Agency would be seeking an Interpol Red Notice against Dr Zakir to curb his movements outside Saudi Arabia should he fail to turn up for questioning.
This came after the preacher defied repeated summonses.
A Red Notice is an international arrest warrant circulated by Interpol on behalf of a government.
On another matter, Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia had not decided when to resume operations of its embassy in Pyongyang now that the tension between both countries seemed to have cooled down.
“I will discuss this with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister,” he said when asked if both the ambassador and embassy staff would return to Pyongyang.
Following the release on March 31 of nine Malaysians previously barred from leaving Pyongyang, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said the country would not cut diplomatic ties with North Korea.
Relations between Malaysia and North Korea soured following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the KLIA2 departure hall on Feb 13.