The Star Online|Malaysia 13th General Election

Allow senator and his colleagues entry, Government urged

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has opposed the move to disallow Australian senator Nick Xenophon from entering Malaysia.

Its president Lim Chee Wee said criticism of policy and governance must be respected and received without reprisal.

“Any other reaction would be a sign of insecurity, and would disrespect the rule of law. We call on the Government to allow the senator entry and assure his colleagues that they will be permitted entry too,” he said in a statement yesterday.

During his visit here, Xenophon was scheduled to meet representatives of the Government, the Opposition, civil society groups and leaders of the Bar.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said stopping Xenophon at the LCCT Terminal was a “gross abuse of power”.

He said this violated international protocol in terms of treatment of visiting lawmakers from abroad, especially from Commonwealth member countries.

“He is here to be joined later by other Australian lawmakers for talks with us as well as officials of the Election Commission,” he said.

Xenophon was denied entry into Malaysia as soon as he arrived at the LCCT Terminal in Sepang.

Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrish-nan, however, claimed that Anwar had apparently misled Xenophon, saying: “If the election system in Malaysia is not free and fair, how did the Opposition win five states in the last general election?”

Independent Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng questioned who sponsored Xenophon's visit to Malaysia and why.

“I was with the Opposition before. And I know claims of phantom voters are part of the Opposition's perception game to fish for sympathy votes,” said Tan.

Independent think tank Sedar Institute executive director Tan Chuan Koon said the Opposition had been making false claims that the election system was not fair.

“We can see vote swings that led to changes in governments in states like Sabah, Kelantan and Penang in the last 12 general elections.

“This shows that the election system here is free and fair,” he said.

The March 2008 political tsunami where the opposition took control of five states would not have been possible if the system was dirty, he said.

“We should not get outsiders to interfere in the nation's rule and system,” he said.

Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said foreign intervention went against the spirit of democracy.

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