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Ramkarpal: Dr M's Zakir-Sirul analogy misconceived, risks bilateral tensions

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Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad likening the situation of preacher Zakir Naik to that of fugitive Sirul Azhar Umar, who had fled to Australia, is "misconceived".

The DAP lawmaker pointed out that while Sirul has been convicted by Malaysia's apex court for murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, Zakir, who is being sought by India for alleged money laundering offences, has yet to stand trial.

Ramkarpal added that the only reason Australia is refusing to extradite Sirul was that the former Special Action Unit (UTK) commando faces the death sentence in Malaysia which Australia has a policy against, but had never questioned whether Sirul received a fair trial.

"The most obvious feature which distinguishes Sirul’s and Zakir’s cases, therefore, is the fact that Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul is not on account of his inability to receive a fair trial, but because he faces the death penalty as he has been convicted.

"Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India as countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation," he said.

Furthermore, Ramkarpal said Malaysia had no qualms deporting activist Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thailand despite fears that she will not receive a fair trial due to the country's strict lese-majeste laws.

"The prime minister was reported as saying then that Malaysia had no choice but to do so as Thailand had requested Praphan to be extradited.

"The position is the same in Zakir’s case," he added.

Ramkarpal said Zakir (photo) faces criminal charges in India and may well be acquitted if he successfully defends himself there.

"As such, his case cannot be compared to Sirul’s.

"Malaysia’s reluctance and possible refusal to repatriate Zakir to India, if India requests the same, can also cause unnecessary tensions in bilateral relations between the two countries.

"With respect, such an outcome would certainly not be in the best interests of both countries and Malaysia should repatriate Zakir to his country to face the charges levelled against him there," he said.

India's Enforcement Directorate is reportedly on the verge of securing an international arrest warrant against Zakir, who is presently in Malaysia.

He is wanted for an ongoing trial in Mumbai under India's Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.

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