KUALA LUMPUR: Controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik had to fork out RM10,000 a month on 24-hour protection for him and his family after alleged defamatory statements were published against him, the High Court was told today.
This followed publication of the statements by Penang deputy chief minister II P Ramasamy, he said when examined by his lawyer, Akberdin Abdul Kader, on the first day of the hearing of his defamation suits against Ramasamy.
Naik, 56, who is a permanent resident and residing in Putrajaya, said because of his fear, police had advised him to engage security personnel for himself and his family.
“I had to spend RM10,000 a month to engage security guards round the clock just because the defendant made statements to gain political mileage,” he said.
Naik filed two suits, separately in October and December 2019, alleging that Ramasamy had issued defamatory statements against him.
On Oct 16, 2019, he sued Ramasamy for allegedly issuing the statements, uploaded on social media sites and news portals between 2016 and 2019.
In his statement of claim, he alleged that Ramasamy had defamed him on April 10, 2016, by calling him Satan on his Facebook page.
He also claimed that he was defamed in a statement issued by Ramasamy and published by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) on Oct 1, 2017.
Naik claimed that on Aug 11, 2019, Ramasamy had “manipulated” a speech he made at an event organised by the Kelantan government, which was also published by FMT the same day.
On Aug 20, 2019, he claimed, Ramasamy again defamed him in a statement published by India Today.
Naik filed his second suit against Ramasamy in December 2019, alleging that the defendant defamed him through comments on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam posted on The Malaysian Insight portal.
Naik said all the statements caused him mental anguish, trauma and distress as he was exposed to personal harm after Ramasamy’s statements incited public anger.
He said the statements also tarnished his image and damaged his reputation in the eyes of the public.
“They also caused me to suffer grave humiliation, untold ridicule and severe embarrassment among the public,” said Naik, who admitted that this is the first time he was giving evidence in court.
Naik had filed two police reports in Putrajaya on Aug 16, 2019 against Ramasamy, Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Bagan Dalam assemblyman M Satees and former diplomat Dennis Ignatius.
He said he made a specific report against Ramamasy on Sept 3, 2019.
“While the police were carrying out an investigation on the first report (Aug 16), I found it difficult to continue my daily activities with my family in public as a result of the defamatory statements,” he said.
Naik, who spoke loudly as if giving a public lecture, said he had tried to explain to the Malaysian public the true intention and meaning of his speech in Kota Bharu on Aug 8, 2019, by issuing a press statement.
“I had issued an apology to Malaysians as I was in no position to humiliate any race, religion or nation,” he said.
He also said about 20% of the people who attended his talks were usually non-Muslims.
“I did not want them to have a negative perception about me. As a preacher, I propagate peace and love to non-Muslims,” he said.
He said the apology was not an admission that he was in the wrong but to clarify Ramasamy’s allegation, which was “nonsense and rubbish”.
“It only shows one’s greatness if an apology is made even though there was no wrongdoing,” he said.
Naik said Interpol also did not issue a Red Notice to arrest him and to extradite him to India to face charges even though investigating authorities claimed he was involved in terrorism, causing enmity among religions and in money laundering.
The hearing before judicial commissioner Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz continues