PETALING JAYA: Australian senator Nick Xenophon today lodged a report with the Travers police station against three Umno-affiliated newspapers, alleging they had defamed him by labeling him as anti-Islam.
Referring to a May 1 report in Utusan Malaysia under the headline “Anti-Islam senator observes Bersih 3.0”, he said the article was false and had damaged his reputation.
The New Straits Times (NST) and Berita Harian repeated the allegation.
Explaining the delay in lodging the police report, Xenophon’s lawyer, Amer Hamzah Arshad, said the senator was in Australia when the articles were published and wanted to make the report personally.
He added that Xenophon had been busy with his senatorial duties in Australia.
“In the police report, he did explain what had transpired with regard to the delay,” Amer Hamzah said.
“There is definitely nothing sinister about the delay, nothing political about it.
“The allegations are vile and serious and have tarnished the senator’s reputation. As a member of parliament, he definitely does not prescribe to such extreme notions.
“Furthermore, he has many Muslim friends, both in Australia and Malaysia, and even in the US. Therefore the articles definitely do not reflect his personality.”
Xenophon was one of the foreign observers invited by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to evaluate electoral reforms in Malaysia. He was in Kuala Lumpur to observe the Bersih 3.0 rally.
The NST article appeared on May 2. It replaced several words that the senator had uttered in a 2009 speech, making it appear like an attack on Islam.
A check with the Hansard transcript of the Australian senate showed the speech was against Scientology, not Islam.
On May 3, NST issued an apology and admitted it had made a “grave error”.
“Sometimes an apology is not enough in the sense that it doesn’t take away your right to pursue the matter further,” Xenophon said.-FMT