Anyone who touches on racial sensitivities to the extent of causing instability in the country will not escape the long arm of the law, including permanent residents, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
Muhyiddin said that PRs are all the more required to abide by the country's laws because the status is an award.
"It is the same for Dr Zakir Naik as with everyone else. There are Muslims who want to defend him.
"True, he is a preacher and an expert (on Islam), but if he touches on certain (sensitive) matters like what he has (allegedly) done, we cannot allow that," he said.
"Do we want to remain silent if that triggers instability due to widespread feelings of dissatisfaction?
"There are boundaries to be observed whether the individual is a PR or a citizen. There is no exemption. No one is above the law."
Muhyiddin was speaking to reporters after opening the International Seminar on Religious Values in Preventing and Responding to Terrorism Extremism (PCVE) in Kuala Lumpur.
He was asked on the developments in the police investigation of Zakir (above), who reportedly made controversial statements against Indian and Chinese Malaysians during a speech in Kota Bharu.
The police called up Zakir on Aug 16 and 19 to record his statement on the alleged remarks.
Muhyiddin said Malaysia's stand on Zakir is in line with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's statement that the government will not deport him to India if he does not create any problem.
Asked if the decision of the government will affect the police investigation of Zakir, he said the ongoing police investigation is a domestic case pertaining to Zakir’s speech based on the police reports lodged against him.
“However, the prime minister’s view will also be our guide as to whether or not he will be deported because of the demand from India. That's our right. The law does not say that we have to respond when a country makes a demand (for deportation).
“If we feel it is unreasonable, then we do not need to respond to the demand made by any country," he said.
The Indian government has issued an extradition note for Zakir because he is wanted in India for alleged money laundering involving more than 1.93 billion rupees (RM115.66 million) believed to be “the proceeds of crimes in India and overseas”.
Asked about a meeting between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Youth wing (Armada) chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Zakir, Muhyiddin said even the opposition politicians have met Zakir.
“To me, it’s okay. It does not mean that we are bound by their views. We act based on the rule of law. We apply the existing laws if they are applicable," he said.