DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang (above) has defended his party against the perception that concerns over Dr Zakir Naik had been left solely to its Indian ministers to raise to the cabinet.
Saying such claims were “not true”, the Iskandar Puteri MP said the stand taken by Gobind Singh Deo and M Kulasegaran was one agreed upon by all six DAP members currently in the cabinet.
“Firstly, Gobind and Kula are in the cabinet not as ‘Indian ministers,’ but as ‘Malaysian ministers’.
“Secondly, the Zakir issue was not left to Gobind and Kula to raise, but had been the concern of the six DAP ministers who had, under the leadership of the DAP secretary-general and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, discussed and concurred on the issue before the cabinet met yesterday.
“Thirdly, the cabinet did not decide its concern because of Zakir’s attack on the Chinese Malaysians, as the Malaysiakini report on Zakir’s unsolicited attack on the Chinese Malaysians came out only after the cabinet meeting,” Lim said in a statement today.
Yesterday, Gobind and Kulasegaran informed in a joint statement that they had raised the issue of the controversial India-born Islamic preacher during the cabinet meeting and called for him to be sent away from Malaysia.
They said they were now leaving it to Prime Minister Dr Mahatahir Mohamad to consider the country’s position on this.
Aside from Guan Eng (Finance), Gobind (Communications and Multimedia) and Kulasegaran (Human Resources), other DAP leaders holding ministerial portfolios are Anthony Loke (Transport), Yeo Bee Yin (Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment) and Teresa Kok (Primary Industries).
Incidentally, Guan Eng is also Lim’s son.
Other ministers to have also backed the call for Zakir's ouster are Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
Zakir - a Malaysian permanent resident on a self-imposed exile from India where he is wanted - was quoted recently questioning the loyalty of Hindu Malaysians and calling for Chinese Malaysians to leave the country as they were mere “guests”.
The latter had reportedly said all this during a dialogue hosted by the PAS-led Kelantan government on Aug 8.
Zakir has claimed he was misquoted over the Hindu Malaysian comment, but has yet to comment on his remark on the local Chinese.
He is wanted in India to face charges related to money laundering and terrorism, although he has denied any wrongdoing.
Mahathir has refused before this to send the televangelist back to India, saying the latter has not broken any local laws and was at risk of being killed if sent back.
This is despite Malaysia having signed an extradition treaty with India.
In his statement today, Lim also stressed that all six DAP ministers and seven deputies have been working closely on other hot button issues, including the inclusion of khat art (Jawi calligraphy) lessons in schools and Lynas rare earth plant operations.
“DAP ministers and deputy ministers are in office not because of the perks and privileges, but because it provides them with the opportunity to achieve the national goal of a New Malaysia,” he said.