Budge Nine fly safely home

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Nine young Aus­tralian males be­came the un­wit­ting sub­jects of an in­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent af­ter be­ing arrested at Sepang dur­ing the podium cel­e­bra­tions af­ter the Malaysian Grand Prix.

They were de­tained by po­lice and in­ves­ti­gated for ‘breach­ing the peace, pub­lic in­de­cency and dis­re­spect­ing the na­tional ag’. For the charge of in­sult­ing a na­tional em­blem in Malaysia, the nine faced a po­ten­tial two-year gaol sen­tence.

The nine had stripped down to re­veal match­ing swim­ming cos­tumes bear­ing the Malaysian ag adorned with the im­age of a budgeri­gar. Chant­ing ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!’, they drank al­co­hol from their shoes in cel­e­bra­tion of Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s vic­tory in the Malaysian Grand Prix. The men, who would be­come known as the ‘Budgie Nine’, spent the fol­low­ing four days in a Malaysian prison be­fore ap­pear­ing at the Sepang Mag­is­trates Court.

In court, one of the men read a state­ment say­ing they were very re­morse­ful and that they apol­o­gised for ‘dis­re­spect­ing the Malaysian ag and peo­ple’. Judge Harith Sham Mo­hamed Yasin told them their be­hav­iour was ‘to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate’ be­fore they were cau­tioned and dis­charged.

While the Budgie Nine af­fair fell short of be­com­ing a diplo­matic in­ci­dent be­tween the two coun­tries, there was em­bar­rass­ment in Can­berra when it was re­vealed that one of the nine, James Walker, was an ad­vi­sor to fed­eral de­fence min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne.

Aus­tralian For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Julie Bishop com­mented dur­ing the men’s de­ten­tion that the gov­ern­ment could pro­vide them only with con­sular sup­port.

“…As I con­stantly re­mind peo­ple, we can’t bail you out if you get into trou­ble with the laws of an­other coun­try. We can’t in­ter­fere in the le­gal pro­ceed­ings of an­other coun­try any more than an­other coun­try could in­ter­fere in our le­gal pro­ceed­ings.”

Prime min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull echoed Ms Bishop’s com­ments.

“When Aus­tralians are over­seas, they should al­ways be care­ful of, and re­spect, the laws of the coun­try in which they are in,” the prime min­is­ter said.

On the podium, Daniel Ric­cia­rdo had been un­aware of the drama and only heard about it af­ter­wards.

“At the time they thought it was a bit of harm­less fun, and were en­joy­ing the cel­e­bra­tions,” he told the Hufng­ton Post. “It was a while since I won [a race] and they were ex­cited. They didn’t re­alise the ef­fect it would have on the locals.”

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