PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister's comparison between the cases of controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik and Sirul Azhar Umar is "misconceived", says Ramkarpal Singh.
The Bukit Gelugor MP pointed out there were differences in the two cases.
Ramkarpal said Sirul has been convicted by Malaysia's apex court for murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, while Zakir has yet to be convicted of alleged money laundering offences.
"It is clear that Sirul has exhausted all his legal avenues and remains a convict facing the death penalty whereas Zakir has not been convicted and only faces a trial in India for now," Ramkarpal said in a statement on Monday (June 10).
He also pointed out that Australia's refusal to extradite Sirul is not on account of his inability to receive a fair trial, but because he faces the death penalty as he has been convicted.
"Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India.
"Countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation," Ramkarpal said.
He also noted that Malaysia repatriated Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thailand upon a request made by that country in May, despite fears that Praphan would not receive a fair trial under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws.
"The position is the same in Zakir’s case. Zakir faces criminal charges in India and may well be acquitted if he successfully defends himself there.
"Malaysia’s reluctance and possible refusal to repatriate Zakir to India if India requests the same, can also cause unnecessary tensions in bilateral relations between the two countries.
"Such an outcome would certainly not be in the best interests of both countries and Malaysia should repatriate Zakir to his country to face the charges levelled against him there," he said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia has the right not to extradite Zakir if he is not going to be accorded justice.
"We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows."Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India)," Dr Mahathir said.