SEREMBAN: Controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik must take responsibility if what he had said during a recent event in Kota Baru was seditious and could adversely affect race relations in multiracial Malaysia, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (pic).
The Umno deputy president said Dr Zakir would need to face the process of law if he had indeed uttered seditious remarks because the freedom of speech accorded under the Federal Constitution was not absolute.
"You can be anyone including an ulama (Islamic leader) or a statesman, you are not at liberty to ridicule the status, standing or the nationality of any race in Malaysia.
"And for you, Dr Zakir Naik – you are a famous preacher and you have been treated with so much respect here.
"So you need to be responsible and show that Islam is for the good of all," he said.
Mohamad said if Dr Zakir was unable to do that, then he should not blame the Malaysian government if it decides to act.
However, Mohamad said the government should look at all angles before deciding on asking Dr Zakir, who is a permanent resident, to leave.
"Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is facing a difficult situation. If he does not ask him to leave, then he will be seen to be endorsing what Dr Zakir said, which would be seen as being disrespectful of other races in Malaysia.
"And if the government sends him back (to India), then his life and rights may be threatened," he said.
Mohamad said as much as Malaysians disagreed with Dr Zakir's views, justice will only be seen to be served if there was a guarantee that his rights would be respected.
"If there is reason for us to believe that his rights will be compromised then we should act according to best practices based on international law," he said.
He expressed hope that the Prime Minister would make a balanced decision taking into account Dr Zakir's rights and the voices of the various races in Malaysia.
"What is certain is that we are hoping he would use his wisdom before he decides," Mohamad added.
During a religious talk in Kota Baru, Kelantan on Aug 8, Dr Zakir responded to calls for his deportation by saying that the Malaysian Chinese should "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.
Prior to this, Dr Zakir had said Hindus in Malaysia were showed more loyalty to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi than to Dr Mahathir.