Zakir Naik should return to India to face trial

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COMMENT | The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal has already turned Malaysia into a nation of kleptocrats and somewhat of a rogue nation in the eyes of the world.

In the United States, this is by and large the biggest case of money-laundering that the country has ever seen, considering that the US has existed since 1786. The latest that we have learnt is that they are now filing criminal charges against Jho Low.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Low, a Malaysian who is a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is now a major suspect in a money-laundering case involving 1MDB. He is also a person of interest in Singapore.

The money-laundering scandal is being investigated in a number of countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, and although the major scandal happened with a Malaysian investment arm under the Finance Ministry, to date, no one has been prosecuted.

This has put us in a very tight situation. While we are talking about North Korea as a rogue nation because they have yet to return the four suspects in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, we are no better.

Interpol red alert

Although an Interpol red alert has been sought against Zakir Naik under a non-bailable warrant issued by Mumbai's Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, no action has been taken to repatriate him back to India.

This has placed Zakir as a prime suspect in some major money-laundering. And, instead of going back to India to contend his case in court, the defiant preacher accused the Indian authorities of having “double motives”.

Malaysians should not be duped by Zakir’s argument that he had offered India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) an interview through video-conferencing or phone. No authorities would agree to that.

By remaining here in Malaysia or elsewhere, Zakir is putting more strain on the country’s reputation. Certainly, he does not care as long as he has a place to escape, but it does not go well on his own reputation.

If he has done nothing wrong, he should surrender himself to the Indian authorities and request for the interview to be recorded or observed through glass windows by his lawyers. His defiance puts Zakir in a bad light.

Unless he has something to hide, he should not be afraid to face the NIA. The NIA would not have applied for the Interpol red alert unless they have obtained solid evidence against Zakir.

Look at the US Department of Justice. It took time for them to finally arrive at a decision to file criminal charges against Low.

The time will come when the long arm of the law will catch up with Zakir. Zakir will have to eventually face the law, whether now or later...

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