Sooo... this is usually a blog that is less than entirely serious and typically contains some pretty off-colour humour, if it is inspired by more mundane or serious aspects of life. But if I can, I'll take a moment to discuss something serious.
Why has the New Straits Times misquoted an Australian Senator so bizarrely?
Well, it's not conspiratorial, nor that bizarre. It's politics, and makes complete sense when viewing it from a Malaysian political perspective, rather than an Australian one.
GE12 saw the ruling Barisan Nasional loose it's customary 2/3rds majority. If things looked bad then, it looked even worse for BN when it hamfisted a response to the 'Bersih 2.0' rally in July 2011, it's participants calling for unfettered media access by all political participants, indelible ink, and cleaning up of a very suspect electoral roll to name but a few reforms that should fall into the 'No-Brainer' category.
Since then, with the rise of social media and alternative media outlets which are available online that do not necessarily toe the government line, BN has been facing ever increasing pressure to reform and an ever decreasing ability to control the information read by that the voters it ostensibly has to satisfy. Thus it's forced to at least undertake the pretence of reform, even though in doing so it risks losing it's decades long hitherto unchallenged hold on political power.
Recent scandals involving government contracts, MPs embezzling millions of Ringgit in public funds, as well as recent discoveries that the two top officials in the Malaysian Electoral Commission are in fact paid-up UMNO (and thus BN) party members have compounded long term allegations of corruption in the Police, the EC and other public institutions.
So what does this have to do with Senator Xenophon?
Well the good Senator was in Malaysia at the same time as the Bersih 3.0 rally last weekend, specifically for the purpose of consulting with Malaysian politicans about, you guessed it, the state of Malaysian electoral processes.
Things become even more complicated when the Senator a) meets with a highly controversial opposition leader in Anwar Ibrahim, and b) gets shot with teargas during the rally's aftermath, thus creating significant unwelcome international attention to what is already a tricky situation for BN. The resulting controversy around the government regulations that local Subscription TV provider Astro cited as the reason for censoring it's BBC World Service and Al Jazeera partner reports of the rally didn't help.
With "GE13" already acknowledged by Malaysian domestic and international observers as inevitably subject to the same endemic corruption that has been a hallmark of public institutions during BN's administration, it becomes an imperative to pre-emptively discredit any external or internal criticism in the minds of the Malaysian electorate.
By taking a single word "Scientology" and replacing it with "Islam", UMNO-owned media outlets (UMNO is the largest and most powerful party within the BN coalition and makes no secret of it's ownership of either the NST or the Malaysian Star) immediately colour the Senator and by extension the Australian government in the minds of the average Malaysian as being at odds with fundamental Malay cultural and religious values. This allows them to write off any protest or criticism coming from Australia or it's elected officials in the wake of what will surely be a less than free and fair GE13 in Malaysia.
Combined with the Senator's association with Anwar, and the Senator's documented stance on what the Malaysians refer to as "LGBT" rights, it's perfect BN ammunition to feed to a conservative, culturally and religiously sensitive electorate via a UMNO-dominated mainstream Malaysian media.
Selamat Datang, Mr Xenophon, Selamat Datang.
PS. Also, Cocks.