Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has called on the government to press Malaysia to back off threats against students who attend an event featuring opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim this weekend.
Senator Xenophon said the level of paranoia from the Malaysian government was just extraordinary.
“The Australian government needs to make it absolutely clear to the Malaysian government as a matter of urgency some time on Friday that these threats are completely unacceptable,” he told ABC’s 730 on Thursday.
“These students have a right to attend this forum involving Malaysia’s opposition leader without any fear of retribution.”
Mr Ibrahim, a longtime opponent of the Malaysian government who was jailed for nine years on trumped up sodomy charges, will speak at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on Saturday.
But Malaysian students in Australia had been warned against attending.
An email from the student adviser at the Malaysian consulate in Sydney reportedly told Malaysian scholarship students to stay away.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to take stern action to those scholars who are involved. You know really well what you have signed into,” the email said, according to ABC television.
Senator Xenophon, who was barred from entering Malaysia in February and is now banned from returning there, said Mr Ibrahim was an impressive figure who had been jailed, victimised and defamed by the Malaysian government.
“There needs to be a guarantees by the Malaysian government that this threat will be withdrawn and there will be no consequences,” he said.