Transcript courtesy of Tveeder speaking following his detainment in Kuala Lumpur (NB: Taken from captions, so excuse weird typos)
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SIMON PALAN: The independent senator Nick Xenephon is being detained in Kuala Lumpur airport. He's been deemed a security risk there. Now Nick Xenephon is with us now on the phone.What can you tell us?
NICK XENOPHON: Well not much. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur about 2.5 hours ago, ahead of a delegation of MPs from Australia. Dr Mal Washer and Senator John Williams to look at the Malaysian electoral system. We had a meeting lined up with one of the senior Government ministers from Malaysia as well as the Opposition Leader Ibrahim and had been invited by the clean and free and fair elections movement. I got into immigration about 2.5 hours ago. I was told that there was ago. I was told that there was a problem, some technical glitch. The tech - technical glitch turned into something else. I was escorted to another area and told the wait and after 30 minute was taken to another area where people were being detained. I saw a number of women in cells in the room adjoining me. I was then told that they had orders from above that they had orders from above that I was a security risk and I had to be deported.
So are you being detained at the moment and how are you able to speak to us on the phone if that's the case? Well, apparently I'm not supposed to use the phone but no-one has stopped me yet so I guess the worse they can do the deport me.
From your understanding you're being detained not because of anything that has upset Malaysian authorities since your arrival, you were detained immediately on arrival? I was detained immediately on arrival. Presumably it's because of some of the things I've said in the Australian Parliament about the state of democracy in Malaysia. I can't leave this area, I had to ask for permission to go to the bathroom and I had to be accompanied by an armed guard earlier on so that's what the state of play is. Look, Malaysia is due to have elections here very soon. I think the Australian Government has been incredibly silent about some of the abuses that have been occurring here in terms of the way the democratic system runs or doesn't run. And what we were trying to ascertain with members of both the Coalition and the Government was to how free and fair the elections are likely to be but at this stage I've been told that I'm not allowed entry and I have to be on the next flight back home.
OK, were you expecting to be detained upon arrival? Did you think that was a chance? Not at all. I just find it extraordinary. I've been here before, I've made statements about the state of Malaysian democracy previously but on this occasion clearly someone high up in the Malaysian Government doesn't want me here, although the paradox is that we were due to meet with one of the most senior ministers who is responsible for the electoral process on Tuesday morning as well as the Electoral Commission so it's as though I'm a security risk not to be allowed into the country but I wasn't deemed a security risk to meet one of the most senior ministers in the Malaysian Government.
Do you expect to be deported now? I've been told that's what will happen. Australia's High Commissioner to Australia is on his way to the airport. Hopefully he will be able to get access to me in the secure area and we'll wait and see what happens.
And have you spoken to any Australian officials at this stage? Apart from the High Commissioner, the High Commissioner was good enough to ring me and I'm just waiting to hopefully he will be allowed access to meet with me.
OK, and Senator, just give us a run down of how exactly you became involved in this cause? Well, I became involved in this cause when the Opposition Leader Ibrahim came to Australia in 2010. He met with a number of MPs. I undertook to keep an eye on the trial he was facing which he was subsequently acquitted of. In January last year I was there for that trial as observer. I was part of an observer. I was part of an observer group that looked into the election system that published a report at the end of April last year and I had - and I am pursuing a defamation case including criminal defamation against basically State or government-backed media organisations for things that they've said about me basically misattributing a speech I gave on scientology and replace ing scientology with the word Islam which was pretty rough stuff. So I'm just here to - I was waiting to meet with my colleagues as part of a delegation to look at the Malaysian election system but right now I've been told that I must be deported as soon as possible.
OK. Do you feel safe? I Feen mean how are they treating you? They're apologetic. They're saying this is something that is beyond their control. The immigration officials I've spoken to have all been incredibly polite but they say they have orders from above that I'm on a watch list which means that I can't be allowed into the country. I understand there are some other Australian politicians who are headed towards Malaysia on thesame cause, do you think that they will not come now? Well, possibly not. I've managed to get through to Senator John Williams who was due to fly out to get here in the early hours of Monday morning. Dr Mal Washer was due to get here tomorrow night and Steve Giorganis, the Labor member for Hindmarsh is due to arrive tomorrow afternoon. What the status of that is now is anyone's guess.
Do you have anyreflections on the state of democracy in Malaysia given your detention? Well, unfortunately confirmed some of the fears that I've had that have been reflected upon by those I've spoken to including the elections movement of Malaysia and the whole thing is rather bizarre and surreal but it's already been a long night for me and I'll just hopefully I'll get some idea of what's happening sooner rather thanlater. How long have you been at the airport? It's approaching 3 hours now and after getting off an overnight flight, and I need to let your viewers know I do fly economy to save money.
Nick Xenephon,thanks for speaking to us in trying circumstances. Appreciate it.