Disrupting the peace in our society

‘Unwanted’ preacher continues to stir controversy one way or another and yet there are those who want him to stay on in our country.

CONTROVERSIAL preacher Dr Zakir Naik is like a nightmare that refuses to go away. He was bad news in 2019 and as we move into 2020, he is most certainly going to remain the hot potato that no one wants except Malaysia.

But unfortunately for Malaysia, due to political and religious expediency best known to our politicians, he is still given the VVIP status.

He still keeps his permanent resident status and in the words of at least one Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) examiner, Zakir is an icon in the Islamic world.

Without doubt, he is well-known and well-followed by his legion of fans.

But here’s the contradiction. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and custodian of Islam’s most sacred sites, does not even want to accept him.

So does almost all the Islamic nations that Wisma Putra has taken the trouble to call up to offer him a place.

One obscure African nation was prepared to offer him a place, according to well informed sources, but the Indian national understandably turned it down.

In the Prime Minister’s own words, Malaysia has continued to host Zakir because not many countries want him.

“We are trying to find some place where he can go to but at the moment no one wants to accept him, ” said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when asked in July why Malaysia is still allowing Zakir to stay here.

That’s not all. He is banned from speaking in nearly all the states including Johor, Selangor, Melaka and Perak, with Sarawak even banning him from entering the state. The police have issued a total ban on him from all speaking engagements.

So, it was a bit off tangent, when another controversy involving Zakir cropped up, as if to end the year with a bang, although he had no part in this.

Last week, a UniMAP examiner thought it was necessary to put a question in a test paper, which clearly wanted to imply that Zakir had been unfairly wronged because of the actions of some Malaysians.

The test was held on Dec 29. It is believed to be part of the university’s Ethnic Relations Course.

According to the question, Zakir was one of the icons of the Islamic world and was very active in spreading true Islam.

“He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver speeches. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?”

The multiple-choice question, which allowed students to choose more than one answer, provided these answers:

1) Malaysians do not bother getting actual information;

2) Malaysians are sensitive and feel threatened for no reason;

3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information; or

4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.

Images of the exam paper, with that particular question, have gone viral on social media.

What the examiner has done is literally put the students in a tight spot. To put it bluntly, he has fixed them because all the options almost required the candidate to answer the same preferred answer, although it is presented differently.

The examiner has literally and blatantly imposed his or her view. This is an exam and I can imagine what students who oppose this slant had to go through – which is to forgo a mark, or possibly even be identified by this examiner and punished in future.

But what is even more incredible is that it is supposed to be a course on ethnic relations. The examiner deserves the boot, really.

It’s as good as saying that the Rulers, as heads of Islam in all the respective states, do not know what they were doing.

Zakir has selfishly and obstinately refused to move out of Malaysia, insisting he has done no wrong and has questioned why he should leave the country, forgetting through it all that he’s merely a guest.

For all the accolades that has been heaped on him, it is unlikely that he will be missed for his lectures because he is not conversant in Bahasa Malaysia and he speaks English with a thick accent.

But there are many others with political, religious and racial interests who are egging him to stay on.

We can safely assume that he is enjoying the latest controversy as it puts him on a pedestal again, and certainly, boosts his sense of self-importance once again.

It doesn’t help that the Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department has said it would not interfere in the matter of exam questions from a public university supposedly for “autonomy with accountability”.

“We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability.

“Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public, ” said the department in a statement on Dec 30.

In short, they washed their hands of the issue.

This is Malaysia’s biggest irony – the world doesn’t want Zakir – except us.

And we are left wondering what Zakir can contribute to Malaysia and his “added value” that led him to securing permanent residency here.

It’s better if he just come in as a tourist and spend some money and contribute to Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

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