Mahathir a serial liar

KTemoc Konsiders

When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad meets his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in Russia on Sept 5 ahead of a 3-day Eastern Economic Summit, everyone was wondering if Mr. Modi will raise the issue of Zakir Naik, the controversial Indian Islamic preacher accused of spreading hate speech, laundering money, and funding terrorism by the Indian government.

Like it or not, Mr. Mahathir had to face Mr. Modi because on the same day (Sept 5), India raised the tax on refined palm oil from Malaysia to 50% from 45%. Effectively, Malaysia will no longer enjoy the 5% preferential tariff after close to 10 years – making the import tax on the country’s refined palm oil “same” as those from Indonesia (which pays 50% import tax rate).

After a failed mission by Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok to convince New Delhi not to raise the tariff, Mahathir wanted to talk with Modi about Kashmir and palm oil – and secretly hoped Modi would somehow forget about hate preacher Zakir. Modi, however, wanted to talk about money launderer Zakir and hoped Mahathir would not divert attention on the issue of palm oil tariff.

Based on a video clip of the meeting of both leaders, it appeared there was a moment where Mahathir’s body language suggests that he didn’t get his wish. At least, his facial expression indicated the displeasure of being lectured by Modi. It seemed like the Indian leader was telling Mahathir that unless Zakir Naik is extradited, the 5% tariff on Malaysian refined palm oil will stay.

Subsequently, after the meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah admitted that Zakir Naik was mentioned by Modi but did not elaborate. However, The Times of India quoted Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale as saying that PM Modi had raised the issue of Zakir’s extradition and that both countries will stay in contact over the issue.

Fast forward about 2 weeks later, PM Mahathir claimed that Indian PM Narendra Modi did not make any extradition request for controversial preacher Zakir Naik during their recent meeting in Russia. Speaking during the Breakfast Grille on BFM89.9 on Tuesday (Sept 17), Mahathir said – “I met Modi. He did mention Zakir Naik. But, he didn’t ask for Zakir Naik to be sent to India.”

Seriously? So the public is supposed to believe that the foolish Indian prime minister was merely asking about the welfare of their wanted fugitive and whether he had any difficulty adjusting to the local culture and local food, not to mention sending regards to the money launderer? Perhaps the 94-year-old Mahathir thought he could still insult people’s intelligence.