Malaysia can revoke the Permanent Resident (PR) status of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik should it be proven that his actions harmed the country's "well-being", the country's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday.
PM Mahathir said the government will first wait for the results of the police investigation into the alleged inflammatory remarks made by him against minorities in Malaysia, reported Malay Mail.
"He (Naik) has PR status. We can take that away if he does something that is detrimental to the well-being of the nation," said PM Mahathir. "At this moment, the police are investigating if he is doing that or not. If he is doing it, then it is necessary for us to take away his PR status," he said.
Malaysian authorities have initiated an investigation against Naik over his intent to provoke a peace breach by allegedly making sensitive remarks on Hindus and Chinese residing in Muslim-majority nation.
In response to calls for his own deportation, Naik -- during a religious talk titled "Executive Talk Bersama Dr Zakir Naik" -- had asked the Malaysian Chinese to "go back" first as they were the "old guests" of the country.
His speech at the same venue was also condemned by many parties after he compared the Hindus in Malaysia with Muslims in India, saying that the Hindus here enjoyed more than 100 per cent rights as compared to Muslims in India.
"We will need to take action to prevent him from making such speeches, which tend to pit races against each other," PM Mahathir added.
On being asked whether Naik should issue a public apology for his statement, PM Mahathir said that he does not think the move would appease the public.
"I don't know about demanding a public apology. I don't think it will assuage the anger of many people," he said.
"We leave it to the police to investigate the seriousness of the statements that he has made."
Naik was granted PR in Malaysia by the previous government and has been living in the country for the past three years. He is facing charges of inciting communal disharmony and committing unlawful activities in India. He is also facing probe both in India and Bangladesh in connection with the terror attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 2016.
India said it has made a formal request to Malaysia and will continue to pursue his extradition.
However, PM Mahathir had recently said that his country has the right not to extradite Naik, for similar reasons that Australia had turned down his country's request to extradite Sirul Azhar Umar in 2015. He also said that Naik believes that he would not be accorded justice in India.
Muslims make up about 60 per cent of the 32 million people in Malaysia. The rest are mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Hindus.