What if Zakir Naik apologises?


Dr Zakir Naik has yet again made limelight after he was alleged to have made a statement that the Chinese are not citizens but are mere “guests” in Malaysia.

This statement sent shockwaves throughout the country and there were calls to revoke his status as a Permanent Resident of Malaysia and for him to be returned to India.

What if he apologises? Will everything go away and be normal again just like what Lee Kim Yew did for the “black flag” incident?

Will the scenario be similar to how Lim Lip Eng apologised for referring to learning Jawi khat as “rubbing cow dung on our faces”?

A couple of days ago, Koon Yew Yin also apologised for insulting and degrading the Malaysian Armed Forces which, according to him, did nothing but eat and sleep.

Would these rights “to apologise” and “to be forgiven” also apply to Zakir if he did apologise for making such a statement?

Since independence in 1957, Malaysians have worked together to build the nation. This racial harmony has been achieved through the realisation of the Principles of the Rukunegara. particularly “Loyalty to the King and Country” as well as respecting the “Sanctity of the Constitution”.

Malaysians are also required to have good behaviour and morality and refrain themselves from saying things that might displease other fellow citizens. However, not all Malaysians abide by the Rukunegara.

When the stripes of the Jalur Gemilang were painted black by Lee in his blog/website, many were outraged as this was seen as an insult to the national flag. This clearly went against the second Rukunegara of “Loyalty to the King and Country”. Instead of facing stern actions for his misdeeds, Lee made a formal apology and removed his black flag post from the Internet. Malaysians were expected to accept his apology and move on.

When Lim protested against the introduction of Jawi khat as part of the Malay Language syllabus for Year 4 students, he made an analogy stating that learning Jawi khat is similar to rubbing cow dung manure “on our faces”. This statement hurt a lot of Malaysians, particularly the Malays as Jawi script is part of the cultural heritage of Malay recognised by the Federal Constitution as the national language of the Federation.

Guess what happened next? Lim apologised and everyone is presumed to have accepted the apology as if nothing had taken place.

Things did not just stop there. A couple of days ago, another Koon also made an unwarranted statement that the Malaysian Armed Forces has nothing to do but eat and sleep, and as such should be sent to plantations to toil the land, nullifying the need to hire foreign labourers. According to Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu), at the moment, more than 95 percent of the members of the Malaysian Armed Forces are of Malay/Bumiputra descent.

Many Malaysians, especially the members of the Armed Forces, were very offended with his statement. Koon was blithely unaware of the fact that his success was as a result of the Malaysian Armed Forces keeping the nation safe.

Again what happened next is not a mystery – he apologised and wrote a formal letter of apology to the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Malaysians are again expected to accept the apology and live our lives happily. How convenient isn’t it?

What if Zakir formally apologises to all Malaysians for the things he said? Will Malaysians stop the hullabaloo and move on just like the three other examples mentioned earlier? Will he be spared and allowed to remain in the country?

Alternatively, if the public is still angry at him, this clearly shows that perhaps these rights “to apologise” and “to be forgiven” are only reserved to selected members of society in Malaysia.

Zakir should consider putting this to the test.

MOHD HAZMI MOHD RUSLI is an associate professor at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, and visiting professor at School of Law, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.