PETALING JAYA: Activist lawyer Siti Kasim has criticised Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's decision not to deport controversial Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
Siti questioned Dr Mahathir's comparison between the cases of Sirul Azhar Umar, who was sentenced to death in 2015 for the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, and Zakir.
She told news portal Free Malaysia Today that unlike Sirul, Zakir has yet to stand trial for his alleged offences.
She said that Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul was because he faces the death penalty in Malaysia.
On Monday (June 10), Dr Mahathir said the Federal Government has the right to refuse any demand from New Delhi to extradite Zakir, who is facing money laundering charges involving about RM115mil.
“We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows. Zakir Naik in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” said Dr Mahathir.
It was reported that India's enforcement directorate would seek Interpol's cooperation to detain Zakir to face the charges back in India.
Siti and 18 individuals had filed a suit against the Malaysian government, accusing it of harbouring Zakir, whom they said was a threat to Malaysia.
The High Court threw out the suit in February last year.
The news portal also reported that activist Arun Dorasamy said it was premature for Dr Mahathir to announce that Malaysia would reject India’s extradition request.
“India has yet to reach a judgment but we are already jumping. I think it’s foolish and hypocrisy of the highest order from the highest office,” he was quoted as saying.
The adviser of the Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia Association also questioned Dr Mahathir for likening Zakir's case to that of Sirul.
“As we all know, the reason Australia does not want to extradite Sirul is because we practise the death penalty and they don’t,” he added.
A Mumbai court is expected to decide on June 19 whether a non-bailable warrant of arrest should be issued against Zakir.
Arun was quoted saying that he would organise a protest outside the Home Ministry if Malaysia refuses to extradite Zakir.