Malaysia

BN men question Xenophon’s role, Malaysian visit

Sabah BN secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan pointed out that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had guaranteed that Canberra would not interfere with Putrajaya's affairs.

"If he represents the Australian government, why didn't he abide by Prime Minister Gillard's guarantee?" Abdul Rahman (picture) told The Malaysian Insider.

"Nick Xenophon is an independent senator; he does not represent Julia Gillard's government," added the Kota Belud MP.

Kedah Gerakan Youth Chief Tan Keng Liang echoed Abdul Rahman's views, saying that Putrajaya should only work with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) administration under Gillard.

"On this basis, Malaysia should only deal with the current Australian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has in the past, confirm(ed) Australia will not interfere with Malaysia's internal matter(s)," said Tan in a statement today.

"Thus, if Mr Xenophon has any suggestion which he wishes to bring forward to the attention of the Malaysian government, then he should proposed (sic) it using the right channel, being through the Australian government," he added.

Tan also said that Xenophon should not meddle with Malaysia's internal affairs as a sign of respect.

Xenophon arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday morning to call on Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz and Election Commission (EC) officials next week, but was detained at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang and subsequently deported late at night.

Nazri did not respond to inquiries for comment by press time.

Xenophon was to review the country's electoral system with a delegation comprising ALP MP Steve Georganas, Liberal MP Mal Washer, and Nationals Senator John Williams, that would arrive later, but they have cancelled the trip in response to his deportation.

Australian media quoted Gillard as saying that her government would continue to press Malaysia for explanations after failing to convince authorities to let Xenophon stay in the country.

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr reportedly said he had already spoken with his Malaysian counterpart to express his surprise and disappointment at Xenophon's deportation, but hoped the incident would not cool relations between both countries.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that Putrajaya did not need to entertain Canberra's criticism over Xenophon's expulsion.

Putrajaya had clashed with Canberra 20 years ago when then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating called then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ‘‘recalcitrant'' for not attending the 1993 Asia-Pacific economic forum.

Australian media quoted Xenophon today as saying that his deportation revealed how "dire and critical" the state of Malaysian democracy was.

The senator was also quoted as saying that his deportation was a "big mistake" as it had backfired on Putrajaya.

News of Xenophon's deportation has been picked up by international press around the world.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, said yesterday that Xenophon's deportation was not a political move and insisted that it was in accordance with the law.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad said yesterday that Xenophon was deported and barred from entering Malaysia under the Immigration Act 8(3) because the senator had made statements that allegedly tarnished Malaysia's image.

Alias highlighted Xenophon's remarks about the Malaysian government being "authoritarian" in handling last April's Bersih 3.0 rally for free and fair elections.

In Xenophon's observation of the rally, he noted that the police had fired tear gas and chemical-laced water in what had been a largely peaceful protest.

His comments were also laid down in the final report of a fact-finding mission on elections in Malaysia as part of an international polls observer group that included six others, including representatives from neighbouring Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Germany.

Xenophon's detention and deportation have raised the ire of several Malaysians, including electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians.

Bersih 2.0 co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan lambasted Xenophon's deportation as a move that showed the government's "paranoia" about the coming national polls.

Anwar called it a "gross abuse of power" that violated international protocol in treating international lawmakers, especially those from the Commonwealth.

Several other Twitter users joined Ambiga in raining scorn on the government's decision, with the subject spawning a hashtag #xenophon.

The Election Commission (EC) however has defended the lawmaker's deportation, saying that immigration authorities were merely performing their duty.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar added that it was unjust to judge the fairness of the coming Election 2013 based on Xenophon's expulsion.

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