THE PRICE OF STRIPPING DOWN: These nine Australians thought it'd be funny to perform a 'shoey' in their briefs at the Malaysian GP. They could be stuck in a Malaysian prison! Image: AP
Canberra, Australia - Malaysian authorities have detained nine Australian men for three nights would regard their actions in stripping down to their briefs and drinking beer from shoes as premeditated, Australia's foreign minister said on Wednesday (October 5).
The nine have been in police custody since Sunday (October 2) when they stripped down to Budgy Smuggler-brand swimsuits decorated with the Malaysian flag in full view of thousands of spectators at the Sepang race track Sunday after Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo won the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that their families had flown from Australia to be with the men.
She dismissed reports by some in the Australian media that the men's exuberant display was just a lapse of judgment.
Bishop told Nine Network: "It was clearly premeditated. They were wearing the Budgy Smugglers and had bought them in Australia."
READ: 'Budgy smugglers' don't belong on track - F1 fans arrested for skimpy briefs
Bishop said she had met Jack Walker, an adviser to Defense Industry Minister Chris Pyne, who was among the arrested men aged 25 to 29.
Police say the men were being investigated for "intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace" and public indecency.
Police said the men face up to two years in jail, a fine or both if they are found guilty.
Finding the humour in it
Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper dubbed the men the Budgie Nine, using a spelling variation of the abbreviated name of the budgerigar, a small Australian parrot. The name plays on nine Australians arrested in Indonesia for heroin trafficking in 2005 who became known as the Bali Nine.
A front page headline read: "Dear humourless Malaysia. Free the Budgie Nine."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would not comment on whether it would be fair for the Australians to be sentenced to prison.
READ: Malaysian GP - Ricciardo backs crazy arrested 'budgy smugglers'
Turnbull told reporters: "We encourage Australians not to get into trouble and that is why we encourage them to respect the laws of the countries in which they are in."
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that the men's decision to strip down was inappropriate and ill-advised.
Joyce told reporters in Canberra: "You're in another nation, you've got to be careful in what you do. But I'm sure - well, I'm hoping - the Malaysians will understand that I don't think there's any real malice in it. Stupidity? Obviously. Malice? No."