(NEWS AU) – AN adviser to the Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne is one of nine Australians arrested in Malaysia after they stripped down to their underwear as Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the Sepang Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Jack Walker, defence innovation adviser to Mr Pyne, was in the group of men seen sporting Malaysian flag budgie smugglers on Sunday.
According to local newspaper The Star, Sepang deputy police chief Abdul Aziz Ali said the nine Australians, aged between 25 and 29, were intoxicated when they stripped down to their briefs in full view of other spectators on Sunday evening.
He said they had bought the briefs — bearing the Malaysian flag — in Australia.
The district police office of Sepang has confirmed the Australians will have a court appearance on Thursday morning at Sepang Magistrate Court to decide whether to extend the remand or to charge them.
Mr Ali said the men are being investigated for “intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace” and “public indecency”.
These “possible” charges could carry a penalty of six-months jail, a fine or both.
“The spectators that were behaving in an unruly and disrespectful manner at the circuit yesterday were immediately removed. We take such incidents very seriously, however we will leave it to the authorities to take the necessary action,” said Razlan Razali, CEO of Sepang International Circuit.
The Advertiser confirmed this morning that one of the men from the group is Jack Walker, Christopher Pyne’s defence innovation adviser.
The paper is seeking confirmation of the other men’s identities and whether the budgie smugglers are in any way a tribute to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Christopher Pyne’s defence innovation adviser, Jack Walker, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Mr Walker can be seen fully clothed in one picture, with proper shorts on and his shirt unbuttoned.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said the arrests were a timely reminder for young people to know and respect the laws of the countries they visit.
“They’re on their grounds, so you’ve got to comply,” he told Ray Hadley on 2GB radio.
A spokeswoman for Mr Pyne said the matter was being “handled appropriately by the Australian High Commissioner”.
“Until we have a clearer picture of the process at hand, it would be unwise to comment further,” she said.
Videos posted on Instagram show the men chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi” while stripped down to their budgie smugglers, pouring beer into their shoes and drinking.
Local newspaper the New Straits Times branded the stunt “stupid” and reported that local authorities were “fuming” over the incident.
The news site quotes Sepang International Circuit chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali as saying the Aussies should be “locked up, investigated and taken action against”.
“It embarrasses their own country as well, it gives Australians a bad name,” he said, according to the Times.
“I am glad that citizens reported on it and that we do not allow such unruly behaviour in our country, especially at the circuit with Formula One being televised worldwide.”
— Nik Asyraaf (@nikasyraaf) October 2, 2016
Police chief Ali said the Australians would be held for four days while they were investigated for public indecency, and possibly disrespecting the Malaysian flag, he said.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the group were receiving consular assistance.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to a group of Australians who were arrested in Malaysia,” the DFAT spokeswoman said in a statement.