KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — Australian Senator Nick Xenophon was detained at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang this morning and will be deported as Immigration called him a security risk, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s chief of staff said today.
Ibrahim Yaacob told The Malaysian Insider that Xenophon was here to meet Opposition Leader Anwar on Monday as well as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz and Election Commission (EC) officials on Tuesday.
“(Immigration said that) he’s a security risk. Orders from above,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said that other Australian senators and MPs, who are due to arrive here tomorrow, as well as Xenophon are coming to observe Malaysia’s electoral system, even as Election 2013 draws near.
News of Xenophon’s detention has also been picked up by the Australian press.
“I am effectively a prisoner here,” he was quoted as saying in the Australian newspaper The Sunday Mail.
The paper reported the Australian lawmaker managed to slip through a phone call when he was left unattended in the interrogation room.
“I’m being held in an area with all these holding cells which are full of women. They have basically told me I am an enemy of the state. They are trying to get me on the next plane out of here and back home.
“I was even meeting members of the government, I mean, the whole situation is ridiculous, we are meant to be the closest of friends with Malaysia,” he told the paper.
“We are meant to be having a people swap deal on asylum seekers but so far it looks like the only person being swapped is me,” he was quoted saying.
The paper also reported Xenophon saying he believed a recent piece he had written for Fairfax newspapers last month, which was critical of human rights here, may be a reason for the authorities to refuse him entry.
They have basically told me I am an enemy of the state. They are trying to get me on the next plane out of here and back home. — Australian Senator Nick Xenophon
When contacted, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said he did not have an appointment with Xenophon, but noted that Xenophon might have made an appointment with his officials.
The Malaysian Insider was unable to reach Nazri for comment.
Ibrahim said Australian High Commissioner Miles Kupa was on his way to the LCCT.
Xenophon came to Malaysia last April as an election observer after being invited by Anwar.
The Australian senator was part of a seven-member international team of election observers who later met Nazri.
Despite being invited by Anwar, the group insisted they were independent, claiming that their expenses for the fact-finding mission were borne by themselves or their respective governments.
Xenophon had said that fundamental concerns regarding Malaysia’s electoral roll, campaign period, media access and other issues pertaining to electoral reforms were raised with Nazri.
Xenophon also observed the Bersih 3.0 rally here last April and said the government’s handling of the mass protest for free and fair elections showed its “authoritarian” nature.
He noted that the police had fired tear gas and chemical-laced water in what had been a largely peaceful rally.
Xenophon was portrayed by local English daily the News Straits Times (NST) last year as anti-Islam in an article that falsely quoted him as calling Islam a “criminal organisation” during his 2009 speech in Australia’s Parliament.
Xenophon later said he would sue the NST after the newspaper admitted its mistake.