“Mr Bradford’s statement last night sends quite the wrong signal to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed,” said Mr Locke.
“We shouldn’t be cosying up the Malaysian government in the middle of the show trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. That trial became more farcical yesterday when the judge ordered the arrest of Anwar’s defence council Zainur Zakaria.
“Joint exercises would legitimise Malaysia’s armed forces, which are a weapon Prime Minister Mahathir can use against the democracy movement particularly if the police are unable to keep the protests in check.
“Mr Bradford is compounding the error Mrs Shipley made at APEC, putting our relations with the Malaysian ruler ahead of our support for human rights.
“The Defence Minister seems blinded by his keenness to have another country for his frigates to play with,” said Mr Locke.