Transcript of ABC's interview with Bob Carr over Anwar's begging
ELEANOR HALL: The leader of Malaysia's largest opposition party and former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, appears to have thrown Australia's Foreign Minister a curve ball with his request for help to deal with the corruption in Malaysia's coming general election.
Mr Ibrahim wrote to the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, to outline his concerns and to ask for Australia's help in ensuring that the election is free and fair.
But Senator Bob Carr told chief political correspondent Sabra Lane that it's difficult for the Australian Government to assist unless it's the Malaysian government that asks for help.
SABRA LANE: Senator Carr, thanks for talking to The World Today.
BOB CARR: Pleasure.
SABRA LANE: Malaysia's opposition leader has written to you appealing for Australia's help in getting free and fair elections in Malaysia. Will Australia help?
BOB CARR: Well the Malaysian elections are a matter for the Malaysian people. It's very hard for Australia to do anything about how they're run, as hard as it would be for Malaysia or another government to have a say in how Australian elections are run. We're not the election authority for Malaysia.
Of course we support free and fair elections in any country. I spoke to Anwar Ibrahim in a private conversation during my recent visit to Malaysia. I heard him express concerns and in the letter he underlines them by talking about, by making accusations of fraudulent and fraudulent registration processes and raising concerns that the elections can reflect the popular will.
We can't comment on that. An opposition leader is entitled to say that to us. But we discussed the elections with him, I'm aware of his concerns.
SABRA LANE: What are you going to do about those concerns?
BOB CARR: Well we're not the election authority for Malaysia.
SABRA LANE: So you're not going to do anything. You've got, Nick Xenophon characterises this as a desperate letter...
BOB CARR: Yeah, I'm not sure what you're saying Australia can do. We don't run elections in other countries. We've received concerns. I say, in respect of this, we want free and fair elections in any country but we're not the election authority for Malaysia.
It is important that we follow what happens in Malaysian politics and our commission there does it. I think their analysis of Malaysian politics is very, very good. Very high quality. But I'm, and it's useful in that process that we talk to opposition forces as well as people in the government.
SABRA LANE: Can we offer assistance to Malaysia? Are we interested in sending a parliamentary delegation to...
BOB CARR: Well they would need to ask for it. The only way that can happen is for the government of Malaysia to ask for assistance and then we'd respond.
SABRA LANE: Okay. So you won't respond until a request is made?
BOB CARR: Well there's no way we can. Australia doesn't run elections for other countries. We send observers when other countries ask for them. We receive, we receive submissions from opposition figures in other jurisdictions. We have in this case and we take what is said seriously. Our position is, we want free and fair elections in any country.
SABRA LANE: How would you characterise the letter that you got?
BOB CARR: Well it's a letter from an opposition figure expressing concern about the elections in his country. But that is the point. It is his country, not our country. And while we can express concern about the freedom and fairness of elections anywhere, we don't run elections in other jurisdictions.
SABRA LANE: That's fine, but he's obviously asked for your help and you're saying we can't do anything.
BOB CARR: What help are you proposing we provide?
SABRA LANE: Well, I'm simply asking.
BOB CARR: Do you want an amphibious landing on the east coast of Malaysia?
SABRA LANE: No, I'm asking.
BOB CARR: This is in Malaysia. Australia doesn't run those elections.
SABRA LANE: Some Malaysians believe Australia may be reluctant to say anything given that we are still hoping that the Malaysia asylum seeker swap can be enacted with the country...
BOB CARR: No, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. We've got friendly relations with Malaysia and we haven't a capacity to do anything about the internal affairs of Malaysia any more than we have with any other country.
SABRA LANE: This criticism has been made this morning. Senator Nick Xenophon said that there are figures in Malaysia who believe that Australia will do nothing because of that deal.
BOB CARR: What are you proposing Australia do?
SABRA LANE: I'm not, I'm simply putting this...
BOB CARR: Sorry, that is, that is, the essence of it. What are you-
SABRA LANE: I'm putting the proposition to you.
BOB CARR: What are proposing Australia do? Malaysia is a sovereign country.
SABRA LANE: I'm putting the proposition to you.
BOB CARR: No, but I want to know what it is, proposed by anyone, Australia can do about an election in a sovereign country.