Asia-Pacific

Feb 19, 2013

In Malaysia, leashed local media loves The Australian

In Malaysia, where the ruling party has a long record of stifling dissent, the media has run a smear campaign against Nick Xenophon for harming the country's "well-being". Freelance journalist Hari Raj reports.

The heavy hand of the Malaysian government can be seen in the local media's response to the deportation of independent Senator Nick Xenophon over the weekend. Malaysian editors have confirmed to Crikey they were told to insert certain lines into their coverage. Editors were instructed to point out Xenophon's well-documented anti-palm oil and pro-gay marriage stance, the rationale being that this would help undermine his position. Or, to put it delicately, paint Xenophon -- detained and deported on Sunday as a "security risk", the latest edition in a long-running series of government efforts to stifle dissenting voices -- as a foreign devil bent on smashing rice bowls and interfering with Malaysia’s economy and culture as well as its elections. The Malay-language media took an even more outraged tone, with quotes from various organisations asserting that Xenophon should be banned from entering the country as he "actively promotes LGBT activities" and "wayward culture". Many ran with a state-approved piece saying that Xenophon was found to be "detrimental to the country’s well-being". The latter included quotes from former Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said the events would not jeopardise the relationship between the two countries -- and added Malaysia didn't need to entertain Australian criticism of its actions. Selective perception was in fine form yesterday, as a piece in The Australian attacking Xenophon proved popular in the Malaysian mainstream media. Most outlets ran a piece by the state news agency Bernama that repeated some of The Oz’s more astonishing generalisations -- among them that Malaysia is "one of the most democratic and freewheeling nations in Southeast Asia" and that its elections are "better than in most parts of the world". The most recent US State Department human rights report on Malaysia does a succinct job of refuting these claims, noting there are "obstacles preventing opposition parties from competing on equal terms with the ruling coalition".

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9 comments

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9 thoughts on “In Malaysia, leashed local media loves The Australian

  1. drovers cat

    A foreign politician or political operative interfering in a nation’s domestic policy has long been a no-no in international relations.
    It’s a pity the Australian press does not, on behalf of the Australian people, express similar outrage when so-called “Lord” Monckton, who describes himself in (UK) political operative terms (even if he is a has-been), comes to this country and stirs up the local loonies on climate change (domestic policy) denial, as he did in Noosa in 2010.

  2. klewso

    They can spot a fellow traveller when they see them – maybe it’s the collar?

  3. Mike Smith

    “Prohibited immigrant” ? Really? He wants to live there? I’d have thought just a visit was sufficient

  4. zut alors

    Gosh golly, it appears there are newspapers even worse than Murdoch’s. Who knew…?

  5. Jason Mountney

    Lucky old Greg Sheridan, since Suharto was pushed aside, he has been looking for a south east Asian despot to heap praise on.

  6. pritu

    Not surprising that the corrupt despots running Malaysia love The Australian. Its approach is the same as their local (owned by them) mainstream media. Takes the corrupt to love the corrupt.

  7. Liz45

    The only thing wrong with all the nonsense written here, is that apparently Nick had a pre-arranged meeting with a MINISTER in the Govt????????

  8. Liz45

    How does that work? Just another example of one hand not knowing what the other is doing? So much for our ‘warm’ relations with Malaysia! Perhaps now the Gillard Govt will stop agitating for a joint policy?? re asylum seekers!

  9. Rena Zurawel

    Nick Xenophon chose to travel to Malaysia as a private citizen. And that is the end of the story. He was deported as a private citizen, not as a politician.
    Australian governments deport lots and lots of people we consider to be a security risk.
    I would have thought that other countries have every right to exercise the same rights.
    I remember there was PM (?) from Fiji on an official visit to Australia. He was told to take off his shoes at the airport and go through the scanner as the condition of entry – as we suspected him to be a possible threat ( a terrorist carrying bombs) to Australia.

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