Something light to start off with. I woke up this morning to the clock radio’s bad news about the Bali Nine and sitting in a traffic jam on the Easter freeway I wondered about what was really going on and reminded myself that 2+2 usually eqauls 4. Listening to RN in my office, it turns out John Faine had similar dark thoughts so at least two great minds think alike.
Let’s leave aside the sheer cruelty of appealing sentences upwards and the oxymoronic idea that Indonesia should kill young Australians for the crime of trying to smuggle heroin into Australia which might have”¦.killed young Australians.
Having presently six Aussies facing the firing squad strikes me as a powerful position for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who alone will have the power to commute these sentences by granting a presidential pardon. Sounds like the sort of leverage that might be useful in behind the scenes negotiations about, say, asylum seeker laws and West Papua.
The West Papuans arrived in Australia on January 17, about a month before the original verdicts on the Bali Nine, which most people considered lenient when compared to Shappelle Corby’s 20 years for a large bag of wacky-tobacky. Pundits were expecting most of them to get the maximum penalty. I know that I was. Such a decision would have been extremely popular in Indonesia as well. I wondered at the time whether the power brokers might have been organising some quid-pro-quo on the refugee issue. They feel strongly about territorial integrity, while we feel strongly about the death penalty. Fair trade.
But on March 23, forty two of the forty three were granted a visa, followed immediately by protests from the Embassy. By mid-April Howard was foreshadowing his ban-the-boatpeople bill which got knocked down in an unexpected display of parliamentary conscience on August 14. All bad news for the Indonesians who perhaps have now reverted to the kind of penalties that might have been imposed in the first place if other strategic considerations had not been in the mix.
Of course, all this supposes that the Indonesian justice system is in the pocket of the government. The world’s (second! – thanx JC) largest democracy wouldn’t be like that would it? It’s worth noting though that the prosecution did not even ask for the death penalty. I guess I am an incurable conspiracy theorist. When I finally breathe my last, I look forward to finding out who shot JFK. It’s been driving me nuts.