PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers whom Dr Zakir Naik has threatened to sue are adamant in not issuing an apology to him despite the end of the 48-hour notice to do so.
Zakir had on Monday given Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy and three others a notice to apologise within 48 hours and pay a reasonable settlement sum to avoid being sued for defamation.
The three are Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy, former ambassador Datuk Dennis Ignatius and Klang MP Charles Santiago. Last week, a similar demand was sent to Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran.
When contacted, Ramasamy said Zakir was “daydreaming or hallucinating” for demanding an apology from him.
He said the preacher had demeaned the Indian and Chinese community in Malaysia.
“As far as Zakir Naik is concerned, the word apology is not in my vocabulary.
“I’m prepared to take him on in court with my other colleagues. I hope he is around so that I can see him in court, ” he added.
Zakir claimed Ramasamy made defamatory remarks on Aug 8 in an article titled “Naik should not question loyalty of Hindus in Malaysia”.
He also alleged that Satees had defamed him in an article on Aug 12 titled “Lawmaker fumes after Zakir suggests Hindus here support Modi over Dr M”.
In the letter of demand to Ignatius, Zakir cited an article by the former envoy on Aug 13 titled “Why empower a demagogue like Zakir Naik?” as being defamatory.
As for Santiago, Zakir claimed that the MP had defamed him in a statement posted on his Facebook page on Aug 13 titled “Wednesday Cabinet meeting must discuss Zakir Naik’s meddling into politics”.
Zakir yesterday apologised for his controversial remarks but maintained that he was not racist, saying that his detractors had taken his remarks out of context and added “strange fabrications into them”.
Ignatius, who had served the country as a diplomat and ambassador for over 36 years, reserved his comments following the latest development.
“As of now, I have not received any notice from (Zakir) Naik’s lawyers so I cannot comment, ” he said.
Ramasamy noted the preacher’s apology was only issued “to save his skin” after all the “havoc” he had created in Malaysia and back in India.
“I don’t think he is sincere because he has done too much havoc in India and here.
“Since the heat is on him now, he is trying to mitigate it by apologising. He should not play games, ” he said, adding that Zakir should be deported to India or any country willing to grant him asylum.
“If he doesn’t leave, the matter is not going to end there. The people are angry that he questioned the loyalty of the Chinese and Indians.
“For a person who claims to be learned, how can he go and condemn the Indians and Chinese who have been here for generations and contributed so much to the country?” Ramasamy asked.
When contacted, Satees said it was “only right” for Zakir to be sent away after all the unease he had created that strained the race relations between Malaysians.
“Even if he promised not to create any trouble, there are people who are using him to create unnecessary unrest for their benefit.
“It’s only right to send Zakir Naik away to avoid greater trouble later.
“I believe the Federal Government will make the right decision considering the peace and harmony of the country, ” he said.
Satees, who is also standing by his statement and will not issue any apology to Zakir, said the preacher’s apology would have been better if it was “unconditional” instead of claiming that his sentences were taken out of context by detractors.
“What’s there to take out of context or to fabricate? Those who listened to his full speech also said the same thing.
“He clearly questioned the loyalty of Hindus in Malaysia, and implying that the Chinese should leave the country first if he is told to leave, ” he said.
“The fugitive preacher reportedly has Saudi Arabian citizenship.
“And he himself has said that 15 countries were willing to offer him citizenship. He can be sent to any of those countries, ” he added.
Kulasegaran said he was unaware whether Zakir was still pursuing legal action against him.
“I don’t know about that, you have to ask him. It’s not me who is suing, ” he said when met after attending the Labour Department Training Institute convocation yesterday.
Asked if an apology from Zakir would suffice or if more action should be taken against the Indian-born preacher, Kulasegaran said he was leaving the matter to the police.
“Let the police complete their investigations on Zakir as people are eagerly awaiting the outcome, ” he added.
Last Friday, Zakir served Kulasegaran with a letter of demand over a press release by the minister on Aug 13 titled “Zakir Naik’s presence in Malaysia is embarrassing to all Malaysians”.
In response, Kulasegaran said he stood by his statement against Zakir and would challenge the defamation suit in court.
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