Even as India continues to seek extradition of Zakir Naik who is being probed in India for alleged charges of spreading terror and money laundering, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia said that the new government in Kuala Lumpur was prepared to “scrutinise” and cooperate with New Delhi on the case.
Anwar Ibrahim, who is in New Delhi for the Raisina Dialogue, spoke exclusively to India Today TV.
He said, “I believe we are prepared to scrutinise and study every aspect of the case. Our position against terrorism and terrorist cells is very clear. We strongly support every counter terrorism effort. Having said that, we will have to abide by known international decorum and ensure that once you have a compelling case, you will have to adduce some evidence. We cannot agree based on what is alleged.”
After the victory of his coalition party, Pakatan Harapan, and his own win in the by-election after being released from prison, Anwar Ibrahim is all set to take over from the current Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in two years.
Speaking on cooperation over the issue of Zakir Naik, he elaborated that there was yet to be a real contact between India and Malaysia on the matter while also explaining that any pictures of Zakir Naik with him or other leadership are “old” except for one instance of a photo with Prime Minister Mahathir after he took office.
“The arrangements and contracts were with the previous government. Since we came to power, there has been an understanding that Zakir Naik should be more subdued or controlled. This seems to be the practice. We have to observe this because India has officially notified us. Out of respect, we need to take cognizance of that,” he said.
He added, “I was made to understand some documents were produced, but our concern is that we need to really be convinced that there is a legitimate premise for a case against any individual before we act. This is a normal arrangement with any country. There is certainly a willingness to look at the case. We are willing to look at the case if substantive arguments are placed before us.”
Once he takes office, he said, he would “renew the commitments of PM Mahathir.”
“First, a strong position against terrorism. But also not using terrorist laws against dissidents and political activists. I would certainly welcome engagement with Indian authorities. If they produce evidence to support their argument, I will not compromise,” he added.
Ibrahim has been engaging with a host of scholars and political leaders. He met Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday and will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
“I met Rahul Gandhi and discussed numerous issues. Was quite impressed. I look forward to meeting the prime minister who has always been kind to me. There are some personal messages from PM Mahathir for the Indian prime minister on how to take relations forward”, he said.
On the maritime front and the China factor that is one of the major aspects of India-Malaysia ties, he invoked ASEAN and said, “Our position is to get and curve an understanding in ASEAN to take a common stand. There are many countries in ASEAN that are affected by these claims. We have seen this with Philippines who said we were thinking of international effort but if they fail, we will have to continue with bilateral efforts.”
Malaysia is a Muslim-dominated country. Expressing confidence in the Indian democracy regarding the situation of minorities in India he said, “Few years back, representation was made by minorities in Bangalore, as a champion of human rights and freedom, I do think it needed serious consideration, but this is, of course, a domestic issue. India has managed the country for decades and they will continue to do so with wisdom and tact.”