[UPDATED] Zakir Naik’s expulsion, not extradition, enough for India, says Thomas
Ex-AG also reveals Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi went against Special Branch’s advice by granting controversial preacher PR status
Updated 2 hours ago · Published on 31 Jan 2021 10:00AM
KUALA LUMPUR – India would have been satisfied with Malaysia expelling Zakir Naik even if it did not extradite the controversial preacher, said former attorney-general Tommy Thomas.
In his new book, My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, Thomas said he met the Indian high commissioner during his tenure, and was told that it was not necessary to have Zakir extradited.
“Instead, India just wanted Malaysia to expel him from our shores. Where Zakir travelled to thereafter was not Malaysia’s concern, and India would be happy that a thorn in bilateral ties had disappeared.”
India, however, has always been consistent on extradition, saying it is never prepared to compromise on having Zakir back on Indian soil.
It has maintained on numerous occasions that nothing less than an extradition would suffice, as the preacher is wanted for various crimes, including terrorism, in his home country.
Thomas said when he referred the matter to the inspector-general of police, he was informed that police had no objections.
He revealed that when Zakir was granted permanent resident status by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was deputy prime minister and home minister in the Barisan Nasional government, the Bagan Datuk MP had gone against Special Branch’s advice.
After getting the nod from police following his meeting with the IGP, Thomas said he briefed then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the matter.
However, he said, Dr Mahathir was not agreeable to his recommendation of expulsion, and the Langkawi MP asked that the matter be left with him.
“Over time, I brought up the subject of Zakir a couple of times with the prime minister. On each occasion, the response was the same. No third country wished to accept Zakir.
“My observation that that would mean Malaysia was hostage to Zakir and would have to provide him with a home did not move Tun.”
When the issue was discussed further with IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, Thomas was told that no Muslim country in the world wanted Zakir, including Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The Mumbai-born preacher has been wanted by Indian authorities since 2016 on charges of money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speech.
It was reported last month that a Malaysia-based Rohingya outfit alleged to have financial ties with Zakir had plans to launch terror attacks in India.
Indian intelligence intercepted crucial financial transactions between the group, Rohingya leader Mohammed Naseer and Zakir, with the group believed to be at an advanced stage of orchestrating strikes in various parts of the country.
The book by Thomas, who was AG from June 2018 to February last year, was published by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. It is available for purchase on the Gerakbudaya website. – The Vibes, January 31, 2021
Dr M told me to avoid open court proceedings in Naik’s case, says Thomas
FMT Reporters -January 31, 2021 4:11 PM
PETALING JAYA: Former attorney-general Tommy Thomas said Dr Mahathir Mohamad informed him to avoid any open court proceedings in attempts to extradite controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.
The lawyer said he met the then prime minister to brief him on the Naik issue sometime in 2018.
Prior to his meeting with Mahathir, the Indian high commissioner met Thomas to discuss Naik and they wanted Malaysia to “expel him from our shores”.
“He (high commissioner Shri Mridul Kumar) was frank. The India-Malaysia relations would not be on an even keel unless the ZN issue was resolved to India’s satisfaction.
“He also agreed that instituting extradition proceedings against Naik in our courts would exacerbate tension.
“I then briefed Tun (Mahathir) on the matter and he agreed any form of court action must be avoided at all cost because that was what exactly Naik would prefer; a platform for him to spew his poison,” Thomas wrote in his memoir, “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, on sale now.
He also said he suggested for Naik to be expelled from Malaysia so that “it would be his responsibility to find a home other than India”.
However, he said Mahathir did not accept this solution and told him to leave the matter to him.
“Over time, when I bought up the Naik matter, his response was the same, and that no third country was willing to accept him,” he added.
Thomas said he also spoke to Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador over Naik and was told the police wanted to have Naik removed from Malaysia.
“Tan Sri Hamid said despite their best endeavours, no Muslim country in the world wanted Naik.
“I have mentioned several countries but IGP replied that each of the countries had declined to have Naik,” he said.
Thomas went on to say he was “puzzled” at why his advice over Naik was not accepted by Mahathir.
“At that time, Tun was concerned with adverse religious and racial sentiment concerning the expulsion of Naik (not extradition).
“Tun was constantly haranguing the Malays for being indolent,” Thomas said, adding that if Mahathir had taken his advice and acted on it, Pakatan Harapan would not have suffered politically for long.
U-turn on ratifying Rome Statute
Thomas also spoke about PH’s decision to ratify the Rome Statute had “substantially damaged the credibility of the coalition”. The Rome Statute is important as it established the International Criminal Court.
“The disinformation surrounding the Rome Statute was classic Trump-style politics and it succeeded.”
He said some academics had made a false case to frighten Malaysians.
Thomas pointed out then foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah was “most keen for Malaysia to sign on”, and the former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for national unity, P Waytha Moorthy, was its biggest backer.
The lawyer said both ministers faced resistance from the civil service, led by the AG Chambers and Wisma Putra over the Rome Statute, prompting him to call for a meeting and invited NGOs, as well as Waytha and Saifuddin to sit with the civil servants.
“I attended and gave my personal opinion favouring entry. Noor Farida Ariffin, former ambassador to The Hague and also senior AGC officer, was happy with my advice.
“I followed up with an opinion to the prime minister and briefed him,” Thomas said.
He also said he was invited to the Conference of Rulers and briefed most of the state rulers after the Rome Statute became controversial.
“I explained the legal position and gave my opinion.
“Many questions were asked and I endeavoured to answer to the best of my ability. It was a frank discussion lasting about 45 minutes,” Thomas added.
He cheekily mentioned that the session was “similar to submitting to a court of nine judges” when he had a brief conversation with the grand chamberlain after the meeting.