Xenophon criticised for interfering in M’sian politics


A handout photo taken and received on Feb 16 shows Australian Senator Nick Xenophon being detained at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport. 

(Bernama) – ONE of Australia’s senior commentators has taken maverick independent senator Nick Xenophon to task for his “foolish or cynically self-promoting” episode in Malaysia at the weekend. 

The Australian newspaper’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan said Xenophon’s call for the Australian government to monitor the forthcoming Malaysian elections was “stupid and impractial”.

Sheridan also accused Xenophon of “campaigning for just one side of Malaysian politics — the opposition”. 

Sheridan said Foreign Minister Bob Carr was right to make his response to Xenophon’s deportation as low key as possible and to agree with his Malaysian counterpart that the issue would not affect relations between the two countries.

“Carr should take no further action on the matter, nor is he likely to,” he said.

“They (Malaysia) should either have told Xenophon in advance he was not welcome or they should have let his visit pass unnoticed. 

“However, if anything, having an argument with an interfering Australian politician will be of some small electoral advantage to the ruling coalition.

“He might reflect on the fact the side he supports contains as perhaps its strongest element the most extreme Islamist party in mainstream Southeast Asian politics.

“Xenophon wants the Australian government to send electoral monitors to the forthcoming Malaysian elections. This idea is stupid and impractical,” Sheridan said. 

Citing electoral problems in Vietnam and Cambodia, Sheridan said Malaysia “on any measure is one of the most democratic and freewheeling nations in Southeast Asia. 

“Its elections are certainly not perfect, but they are better than in most parts of the world. 

“Indeed, its very openness allows people such as Xenophon to grandstand there.”