Overreaction by M'sia draws global attention
M Krishnamoorthy | 10:14AM Feb 18, 2013
"Australian Senator Nick Xenophon visit would have not attracted international media and global attention had he been allowed into the country on Saturday.
Australian newspapers and the international media have been running banner headlines on Malaysia's overreaction in detaining and deporting Xenophon.
Global satellite TV station Al Jazzera broadcast: "Australia demands explanation for deportation."
Quoting former Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, the Canberra Times said: "Xenophon detention unacceptable."
Bloomberg headlines read: "Malaysia expels Australian senator before Anwar meeting", while BBC news stated: "Malaysia detains Xenophon".
"Only hours before Senator Xenophon's arrest, Mr Anwar lashed out at Foreign Minister Bob Carr in an interview with Fairfax Media, revealing he asked in the letter for Australia to speak out about Malaysia's rigged political system," National Times reported in Australia.
"Mr Anwar said his warnings of Malaysia's rigged political system had fallen on deaf ears."
Not surprisingly, Canberra is livid over the deportation of one of its lawmakers and is demanding an explanation.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard revealed that her government made "immediate and strenuous representations" for Xenophon to be allowed to stay in Malaysia.
Australia has also demanded an explanation from Malaysia for why it turned away an Australian senator from his fact-finding mission to study the country's electoral system ahead of elections due within months, said Gillard.
"I was surprised and disappointed to see the treatment of Senator Xenophon yesterday," Gillard told reporters on Sunday.
"Clearly we didn't succeed in getting the agreement of the Malaysian government for him to remain in Malaysia. We will continue to pursue this issue with the Malaysian government," she added.
Najib told to explain
Xenophon, on his return to Australia, has said he was told that the Malaysian prime minister's office made the decision to expel him. It is now up to Prime Minister Najib Razak to say whether he had ordered his deportation, added the senator.
Xenophon blamed his support for the Malaysian democracy reform group Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) for the shock decision to turn him away.
"I was told I was being deported under a certain section of the Immigration Act which basically relates to being a security risk, but it seems the only risk I am is to embarrassing the Malaysia government because of my advocacy for clean elections in Malaysia," he added.
Xenophon had planned to meet with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, cabinet minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, electoral officials and political activists to discuss transparency issues for national elections that must be held by the end of June.
Meanwhile, Immigration director-general Alias Ahmad said in a government-issued statement that Xenophon was barred because he attended the banned Bersih 3.0 rally last year.
"Malaysia is a free and democratic country, but no one is above the law," he said. "Authorities will take the appropriate action against any individual deemed to have violated national laws."