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When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord is a Webdiary columnist. His last article was Abortion - the moral chasm.

by Stuart Lord

Another story, another person caught in Bali with drugs. John Howard said: "If the allegations are true, it is beyond belief that there are Australians who would be so stupid as to take drugs into Asia"

This was said after hearing of the latest Australian to be caught in the possession of drugs in Bali. And the PM is right. After the entrance of the Corby affair onto the national media and collective interest, which is still being played out in the appeals courts in Indonesia, it would be almost inexcusable for anyone not to know the severity of the sentences that could be handed (and usually are handed) out in Asia for drug smuggling offences. Now whether Corby is really innocent or not is not something I wish to dwell on, firstly because nobody outside the court process knows all the facts she was convicted on, and secondly because she has already been found guilty, and will serve at least some of her time (barring a reduction or release from appeals.) However, her case highlighted the potential cost of being caught in Asia with drug (and put an identifiable face to the effects of a conviction).

Thus when the story of the Bali Nine came out, caught with heroin, I immediately thought of the stupidity of running drugs through Asia, and the fact that they deserve whatever they get when found guilty. (I would say that it is only alleged that they did the crime, but I don’t see how you can deny heroin strapped to your thighs). It would be almost inconceivable that they will not receive harsh sentences, both due to the nature of the drug and the quantity of it they were moving. Again, this received a large amount of media attention, more due to the fact that they may well receive the death penalty if they plead innocent and are found guilty and the AFP role in their arrest, rather than any real sympathy for their predicament. Most judged them (I think correctly) to be fools. But again, their predicament showed the consequences of possessing drugs (intentionally or not) in Asia.

Numerous other cases of Australians caught overseas with drug charges in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and other places were highlighted by the Corby affair. The severity of almost all of their sentences highlighted the fact that it was idiotic to chance being caught in possession of drugs in Asia. Nobody can claim they didn’t know at least some of these cases, nor the possibilities. And they can not claim that they broke the law unwittingly. Greed or stupidity (the two main causes that shine through almost all of these cases) brought these people into the position they are now in. And since the nations they are in are sovereign, with their own constitutions and criminal statutes, the Federal Government can do little to help. Some of us may not like their stance, but we have to accept it, for to do otherwise is to ask for a reciprocal rejection of their recognition of our sovereignty, which would have severe consequences through every sphere of interaction with these nations. So if an Australian finds themselves under charges overseas, apart from providing financial and diplomatic assistance, there is not much more the Federal Government is able to do.

And so we come to the latest to be caught in Bali in possession of drugs - Michelle Leslie. She was caught with what were suspected to be two ecstasy tablets, the nature of which has been confirmed by preliminary lab testing. The chances are Ms Leslie will only get off with an insanity plea – that she was insane to even consider being near drugs in Asia – and should spend time in an institution for the criminally idiotic instead. For unless she was completely unaware of the presence of drugs (possible, but highly unlikely) then she knowingly took the chance that she may be caught – even if it was disregarded by her and others - with all the inherent risks and consequences involved. After Corby, the Bali Nine and all the other cases highlighted in the press recently, there is absolutely no excuse. And until those Australian citizens who do use or traffic drugs in Asia understand the fact that they can be held responsible for our actions, that those actions can carry the most severe penalties, and that the Federal Government can not give out get out of jail free cards, then there will be more idiotic examples such as Michelle Leslie. And we need to learn as a nation to respect the legal institutions of other nations in the Asia-Pacific region, especially those created as part of representative democracies such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, for while they have chosen a different course to ours, it is the sovereign choice of the people to have it so. And that is what we must respect.


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re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

I must say I was and still am against visiting SE Asia. No matter how good the beaches, bars, clubs etc. The endemic corruption in the region (I know first hand - I have relatives who live there and I am originally from the sub-continent) is such that many unsuspecting Western tourists are used as pawns to line the pockets of the police, organised crime, politicians etc.

I am against the death penalty no matter what the crime and I decided never to travel to Asia in 1986 when Malaysia executed Barlow and Chambers over 142 grams of heroin.

I do not often agree with JWH but on this occasion I think he is right - anybody having anything to do with any form of drugs in Asia is stupid.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart - you condemn these people as idiotic or greedy without any knowledge of their personal circumstances.

Whilst I agree with you that we must abide by the laws of Asian countries, and that we have no right to object to the harsh penalties that are applied, I think you are being too hard on the poor Aussies caught up in this most unfortunate predicament.

Yes they must accept responsibility for their actions, but you have no right to pass judgement on their motivations, personalities, or levels of intelligence.

The world is a complex place Stuart, and I think you do yourself a disservice as a human being when you so publicly show a willingness to judge people that you know nothing about. I don't presume to speak on your behalf, but I think you should ask yourself whether being judgemental is a characteristic that you're proud to have.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart, when you state greed and stupidity as being the key causes for the predicaments of many individuals caught in possession of illicit drugs you miss another - that of addiction. Addiction is regarded in some circles as being an illness. Drug addicts are often treated more leniently from a legal perspective than those purely in it for the money.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

1 - Death penalty - It's the sovereign choice of the people to have it in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, etc. If they choose it, and you choose to visit their countries, you tacitly (and with the media attention, explicitly) accept the fact that they are there, and that if you are running drugs, or other capital crimes, you can be judged and sentenced to death. If you don't like it, don't go. It's that simple. If you don't like the death penalty over there, form a pressure group, or become a citizen, form or join a political party, take office, and change it. Until then, sovereignty of the people reigns.

2 - Can I pass judgement on these people? Can you, Simon give me a reason why the actions of the Bali Nine are not criminally stupid, if nothing else? How much is your life worth? $10 000? I don't think so. And that is what they were gambling with running drugs in Asia.

3 - It was (definitely in the Bali 9's case and possibly in Michelle's case) their choice to have drugs in Asia. Or their choice to be around drugs. For cash, or for a party, they made their judgement, and it turned out to be very poor. It isn't society's fault, if you have been through any education system, it talks constantly about the negatives of drugs, the consequences of use and the charges possible. And the media coverage surrounding the Corby case was so enormous, do you really think they didn't know the consequences and accept the chance (without ever really believing it) that they would be caught?

Anyway, I'm unwell, so this will be probably my last post around for a little while. Sorry if I can't answer your questions straight away, but I will get back to them as soon as possible. Until then, chat amongst yourselves.


re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart, don't you think executing people is barbaric? Shouldn't society take responsibility for telling people that money is the meaning of life and for not educating these nine kids better? Society waves money in front of our noses all the time, so these dumb kids grab the opportunity for a measly $10,000!

Anti-drugs crusades, and capital punishment policies are due to fear, ignorance, and manipulation.

People's brains don't explode when they take drugs. It's only when society makes it illegal that it becomes a problem. If society is so great, then why do people want to take drugs?

Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are drugs too. Ah, but those drugs sustain ignorant society, so that's okay.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Martin, as I read it Stuart wasn't arguing that taking or trafficking drugs in and of itself was stupid or dangerous (in fact I don't see any value judgements in his piece about drugs at all) - but that to do so into or out of Asia in the face of the all the publicity about the risks is stupid and dangerous.

I think a lot would be gained by communities worldwide through changing the legal situation for many of the currently illegal drugs.

But given the current climate if you traffic them into Asia or use them in Asia then you can't complain when you are made to suffer the very serious consequences that result.

I have sympathy for people with drug addictions but if you know you have a drug addiction and you travel overseas then you had better be prepared for the consequences.

If you commit murder, engage in paedophilia or traffic in refugees in Asia - depending on the country - you risk serious consequences and possibly even the death penalty too ... and it is clear that many Asian nations consider drug trafficking and use to be on the same level.

The fact that we may not as a community or as individuals agree with this doesn't excuse us from being bound by their laws (or for that matter their local mores including corruption) when we travel there.

The world is a dangerous place and we are not "owed" anything by it. Once you travel outside your local community you have to ensure you know what the risks are ....

As Anonymous points out, if you don't like their rules you can choose not to go there.

And a philosophical point I would love to discuss Simon: the only objective basis I have for judging a person is their behaviour ... I can listen to their justifications but this is not an objective measure of anything.

I often say to my kids when they say "I didn't mean to" do whatever it is that they did ... that society will judge them on their actions not their thoughts. So they should think carefully before doing things about how their actions will appear to others. They roll their eyes and say "Muuummm" but look in the paper any day and you will see that this is exactly what we all do all the time.

Unfortunately the old "its not what it looks like" is everyone's fallback excuse when caught out doing something wrong.

If a person does something that looks stupid and greedy (and smuggling drugs into Asia looks both stupid and greedy) then they can't complain when they are assumed to be a stupid and greedy person. They may not be a stupid and greedy person, but it is not unreasonable for onlookers to assume they are.

Of course they can defend their actions ... say they were forced or it was an accident etc. But remember if I say to someone "well that was stupid" and they say back "well I just didn't think the consequences would be this" then basically they have admitted to being stupid. The "I didn't think" bit is the clue.

And we all do stupid things a lot ... I would like to see in our society a lot more acknowledgement of our stupid actions and a lot less justification. The person who justifies their action (especially to themselves) never learns, they just go on doing stupid things.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

I've never taken to or used illegal drugs in Indonesia - I stuck with outrageous alcoholic drinks related to cocoanuts - but from what I understand, things have changed there of late.

Not so long ago, you could be sold drugs and shortly after picked up by police, tipped off by the seller who got a cut from the bribe taken by the police that got you off.

Things have changed. This particular form of corruption seems to have dried up. The police have lost a major source of revenue, and no doubt they're unhappy about that. But most unhappy are the people who have been buying their drugs in Bali from the friends of the police, and who suddenly find that the rules have changed.

Visitors to Bali who like their party drugs need to know that they can no longer rely upon corruption to keep them safe. It won't.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

All this concern over a few hapless aussie exploits in Indoniesia should mean that the fact that the golden triangle has operated unhindered for over the past 50 years, 78% of the worlds heroin originating from Afghanistan with the aid of US troops and 1 billion of illicit drugs imported into this country over the past three years should literally have us all demonstating in the streets.

Ed. Craig R: Welcome to Webdiary Devo. Please read the Webdiary Ethics and note point 1 of Margo's expectations about nome de plume use. You are welcome to post as Devo from here on in as long as you contact Margo and get the all clear, OK.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart, Hope you get well soon, maybe a few days away from the key board will do you the world of good. Take care.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

My view is that all who indulge in illicit drugs - and the number of recreational users far outweigh addicts - are equally responsible for the plight of Aussies busted in Asia whether for useing or trafficking.

Witness the recent bust of a cocaine dealer in Melbourne and his offer to supply a list of his celebrity clients to police including sporting and TV stars. The police declined the offer and stated they do not normally investigate such users when brought to their attention. What other criminal activity receives such leniency particularly when these the suppliers of these lawbreakers are deemed such "evil" people ?.

We should give these youngsters in Bali a break and offer all the help we can. Young people really have to be forgiven for being out of touch with reality at times - it's the nature of growing up to believe you are impervious.

As for Indonesia's so-called fight against drugs, I have no doubt it's a harsh form of window dressing that will see many sacrificed while doing little to actually solve the problem of illicit drug use.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

So it’s dumb to do drugs in Indonesia.

John Howard used 24 words to say it. Stuart Lord took about 800. I agree with them both. Having beaten you both in the conciseness stakes, where do we go from here, John and Stuart? Like both of you I have no explanation as to why so many people seem to insist on doing drugs in Indonesia. Does anyone?

Anti holier-than-thou disclaimer — I’ve done all the dumb things.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord, I have to agree with you 100%. I admit to having been guilty of making ethnocentric assumptions about their legal and "justice" systems, but efforts by these still largely fledgling modern societies to establish efficient and trusted processes is not helped by Australians who insist that our Government apply diplomatic pressure all the time.

Another thing that few realise is that Indonesia's legal system is based on the European Civil Law system, that starts with the Justinian Code in the sixth century CE and is transmitted through Continental Monarchial Europe, before being given a bit of spit and polish by Napoleon. The Dutch version formed the basis of the legal system of its former colony - Indonesia.

As opposed to the mintority Common Law System that we inherited from the British, the Civil Law system is weighted far more to the actual commital process, with a far smaller proportion of cases actually going to trial. And when a trial does occur, it is much more Judge focused. This is still the case today in societies such as France.

While I agree that we Westerners are probably justified in being suspicious of the system all the way from the police upwards, we must remember that this European style court system is not necessarily inferior to our own.

Still, it will be a long-time before I step foot in Indonesia again.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Michelle Davis, Stuart commented: "...if you have been through any education system, it talks constantly about the negatives of drugs..." But I was making general comments about the issues and society.

Michelle, why do you presume that society is right and children and adults who do the wrong thing are wrong? Or why do you use the threat of society's judgments and punishments to stop children and adults from doing what is natural?

Michelle, why do people do what they do?

Stuart Lord, are you a Right Wing Death Beast (RWDB)? You are for war in Iraq, for murdering Mugabe, and for the death penalty being used on the Bali 9. Have you heard of the Rennaisance? The Enlightenment? Human Rights? The 21st Century? Get well soon.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Someone in the teaching profession, from overseas working here in Oz commented to me that the kids she's teaching seem to have a real attitude problem to a degree she hasn't encountered before in her native Canada. She's also used to teaching in smaller towns etc which may or may not have a bearing on it, but, basically, these kids are used to getting their own way - a lot - and they've found any sort of discipline extremely difficult as parents will often intervene in situations where they should have been backing the teachers, but will instead be backing the right of their little darlin's to do just about anything they please.

I know the old 'youth of today schtick' (as in how rotten they are) goes back as far as Ancient Greece, yet when I read all the online comment about the latest Australian arrested in Bali, I got such a sense of 'entitlement' from so many posters, forget about the law being an ass, it was more like, 'I should be able to do anything I want'.

To some extent, that's an argument you could make in your own country, but in another country, to which you are a visitor? That sounds rather colonialist to me - certainly with elements of racism. Is this something we've adopted from the Americans, or is it a hangover from British rule days, when we ourselves were 'colonials' but white ones, and therefore assumed to be superior?

Given this 'born to rule' outlook espoused by so many, is it a surprise there are disaffected people amongst the have-nots and the oppressed, and even those who dwell in the wealthier countries but sympathise, eg the London Bombers?

I can't but see how Australia comes across as a corrupt amoral society of degenerates to nations like Indonesia. It makes me rethink certain aspects of small-l liberalism, if it means 'I'll do what I want and screw everyone else' - I'd never considered that the logical end of campaigning for personal freedoms and civil rights.

I'm confused and disillusioned.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Hi Stuart

Sorry to hear you're not well - and I hope you're back on your feet soon.

To answer your questions:

Can you pass judgement on these people? Yes - you can judge anyone you like, as can I, as can we all. Can I give you a reason why these people are not criminally stupid? Well, I agree that they appear to be criminals, and that it is quite likely that they made decisions that you or I would consider stupid - so no, I cannot give you such a reason.

My point, however, (and I would make this equally to Michelle) is that I do not question anyone's ability to judge nor the basis on which they judge - only the decision to judge in the first place. I'm not a religious fella, so I'm not completely certain of this, but I believe that Jesus is rumored to have said something along the lines of 'judge not lest ye be judged'. Maybe he didn't - but I've always really liked that little mantra anyway.

What I'm saying to you, Stuart, is that neither you nor I gain anything as human beings by deciding to pass judgement on one another. As you would be aware there are likely to be several Webdiarists who have, based on your contributions to date, judged you to be stupid, or cold-hearted, or perhaps even a fascist. Those Webdiarists would, however, be wrong in their conclusions and would in all likelihood have diminished their ability to effectively engage with you and your opinions by making such a judgement in the first place.

Whilst Webdiarists have every right to weigh-up your opinions and accept or reject them, we gain nothing from attempting to judge you as a person for having those opinions. It's the same with the Aussies in Bali - whilst we can weigh-up their behaviour and reject it for ourselves, we gain nothing by attempting to judge them as people for what they have done.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Martin Gifford, I haven't paid my yearly membership to the RWDB club yet this year, Martin, as souls of the unborn and tears of the innocent are hard to come by these days.

I support the Iraq war. Everyone knows it. Google for my name, and the Webdiary article about my support is the first one to come up.

I support the removal (and if necessary assassination) of Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF, for crimes too many to list. 700,000 people homeless and counting, barely one rebuilt, the Zimbabwean dollar in freefall with 1000% inflation, jailing and killing of dissidents, reports of forced starvation in concentration camps for the homeless mentioned above.

And while I am not enamoured with the death penalty being handed out for drug use or trafficing, I respect Indonesia's right as a soverign democracy to have those laws in place, and I think the Bali 9 knew the possiblities and accepted the possible consequences. Whether they truely believed it or not, they knew. There are some mistakes you just do not make, and running drugs in Asia, especially strapped to your body, is right up there with dancing a jig in a minefield.

And yes, the Enlightenment, the Rennaisance, Human Rights, the 21st Century, I know them all. What's your point?

Bill Avent Where do we go? Well, make it crystal clear about the consequences of drugs in Asia. Make it clear that although the forms will be followed, no special influence will be used to get any convictions reduced or overturned. And make it clear that the government will work with Asian authorities to crack down on drug smugglers.

That might do it. There will always be fools risking their lives (in some countries, literally) for easy money, and there isn't much you can do about them. But for the rest of the (at least reasonably) sensible population, they will think twice about what they do and who they associate with in Asia, in full light of the consequences and options.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Simon Ellis That quotation by Christ was referring to the spiritual destination of people (ie. heaven or hell). The point of saying it was to not look down upon people from a position of righteousness regarding salvation, for nobody is righteous, with their actions and words bearing witness.

Christians are, however, called to judge the nature of their fellow human beings, judge their actions and words, and see whether they are fitting or not. Nobody is perfect, nor gets their judgement correct all of the time, but you can get at least reasonable close to good judgement in situations like these. The actions of the Bali 9 can be judged as criminally stupid. And we judge them as that, more of an example to others of the consequences of that stupidity rather than anything else. We have to be able to judge the actions and characters of others, for how otherwise would we interact with them, find suitable friends and partners? We can not blind ourselves to the character of those around us. Sometimes all of us make a poor judgement, and for that we should apologise and make recompense. But that doesn't change the facts about the necessity of personal judgement.

And thanks for the support, I am getting a bit better, when I am not bleeding everywhere. Unfortunately the infection (golden staph) has left me vulnerable to ruining any clothing I wear (the red stains are a pain, as you could imagine), and taking medication that makes you feel like my head is made out of corkwood doesn't help either. Fortunately, my wireless network is up and running, so I can keep up with how things are progressing in here. I should be fully up to speed by the middle of next week or just shortly after.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Hi Stuart. Glad to hear it's nothing serious. I also had the dreaded Golden Staph recently and its a wild ride (especially for your hankerchief).

As for your comments re judgement of people being a necessary part of life - well - you have a point. It is correct to say that we need to judge those around us when deciding on the level of personal interaction that we want to undertake, and certainly you're correct when you say that judgement of a person plays an enormous part in finding a life partner.

I smile a little when I think of the connotations of the instruction to 'judge not lest ye be judged' when applied to someone cruising in a pick-up joint.

Nonetheless, is there not a subtle yet significant distinction between judging whether a person's actions or personality are suitable to you, and judging someone's worth as a person? Isn't this the fundamental basis for the instruction 'not to look down on people from a position of righteousness'?

You say that Christians are required to judge others all the time - but I would argue that what they are required to judge is the actions of others in the context of being a good Christian (i.e. is the action something that I, as a good Christian, should imitate). Somehow I think that this is not the same as judging someone to be 'criminally stupid'.

Stuart, the bottom line here (and the basis for my objection to your original contribution) is that I get the distinct impression that you have passed judgement on the character and/or motivations of the Aussies in jail in Bali. Quite apart from the fact that you don't really know anything about them and thus may be way off target with your assessment, what do you personally gain by making this judgement about their character?

I would suggest that, if you were to be really honest with yourself, you would probably conclude that the benefit to you of judging their character in such a way is:

1. That it makes it easier for you to deal with the likelihood of their execution - certainly it's easier than thinking of them as potentially good people who have become caught up in a terrible situation through significant errors in judgement.

2. That it allows you to distinguish them from you - i.e. they are fundamentally different because they're criminally stupid and you, presumably, are not (thus maintaining the illusion that such a thing could never happen to you), and

3. That it prevents you from having to feel sorry for them, which is a difficult emotion to process given the circumstances of their arrest.

It's amateur-psychology-hour stuff, I know, but nonetheless my advice to you is to lighten up on these guys.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Martin you say "Michelle, why do you presume that society is right and children and adults who do the wrong thing are wrong? Or why do you use the threat of society's judgments and punishments to stop children and adults from doing what is natural?"

Well on a trival note, you want to know why I presume that people who do the wrong thing are wrong ... do I need to answer that?

But I assume that you actually mean why do I assume society is right and people who do things not sanctioned by society are wrong ... the answer is I don't. I am not making a value judgement about the rightness or wrongness of a behaviour, simply about whether it looks like a good idea or a bad (and hence stupid) one in the context of the society the behaviour is practiced in.

I am simply asserting that if you want to be part of a society then you must abide by its rules. You can use whatever means the society provides to object to rules you don't like (vote, march in the streets, contribute to Webdiary, take out ads, lobby the govt etc), but if you break the rules you have to be prepared to accept the consequences.

Abiding by the rules of our society is the price we pay for the benefits it provides (community, employment, infrastructure, policing, government etc). If someone doesn't think the the benefits are worth the price they can go elsewhere (and people, immigrants of all kinds, do exactly that though it is getting harder and harder these days). Now that may be tough - but the world doesn't owe anyone the life they would like to lead ... you have to take what you can get and make the most of it.

Every community (be it a family, a country, a sports team or a parish) reserves the right to sanction its members to force them into behaviour that meets the society's expectations. A community can't function if the rules aren't followed.

And just because behaviour is natural doesn't make it acceptable by the community - you can't punch out the opposing goalie in soccer and expect to remain in the team no matter how much better it might make you feel.

Break the rules, you suffer the sanctions ... we all learn this (or I should hope we do) from babyhood inside our families. People who don't - well they are always very surprised when nasty things happen to them.

And many people choose to break rules they disagree with and suffer the consequences but to do so for stupid and greedy reasons isn't going to get a lot of sympathy from the wider community.

I'll spare my sympathy for detainees who hunger strike any day over criminally stupid people running drugs into Asia.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

I stumbled upon this definition of stupidity and thought 'Diarists might find it interesting. Having read the piece, my major concern is about the stupid people in positions of power.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord, it has been crystal clear for years that handling drugs in SE Asia can be fatal. Since Barlow and Chambers we have seen Corby and the Bali Nine. Everyone with any interest in drugs is well aware of these cases, and others. How do you propose to make it any clearer? Mail out fridge magnets?

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Michael you say "We should give these youngsters in Bali a break and offer all the help we can. Young people really have to be forgiven for being out of touch with reality at times - it's the nature of growing up to believe you are impervious."

Well I am all for giving youngsters a break ... but when do they have to start taking responsibility for themselves?

As I understand it, all of the Bali nine are adults. They are accorded adult privileges by society ... so why shouldn't they take adult responsiblities and stand trial just like any other adult.

And I guess we all get out of touch with reality sometimes (though honestly, to not expect the consequences of their actions this crowd would have to have been taking the drugs they were smuggling) ... but it can happen ... and when bad things happen as a result, we we have to wear it.

I think anyone arrested for anything overseas should be given all the appropriate assistance by the Australian government to ensure their rights (in the country they are in) are not being breached and they have access to lawyers and other forms of help.

But just because we look upon their actions differently to the Indonesians (for example) does not give us the right to try to pressure the Indonesians into ignoring their laws so that our citizens can get away with breaking those laws.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

The Federal Government has made much about and spent a lot on its so-called war on drugs. Can anyone recall seeing in any of these campaigns images of Barlow and Chambers. Information about where, how and why they were executed. No. That's understandable. This government like many before it operates on the principle of being seen to be doing something as opposed to actually doing something useful.

Let's face it. As indicated by Anonymous, this event occurred in 1986. The young travellers of today probably were not even born when this happened and those of us old enough to remember have probably forgotten. I know I had until I read this post.

While there has been much media coverage of what happened to Corby can someone point me to the latest government antidrug campaign featuring this case being rushed on air and run ad nauseum on our screens like the GST ads were? No. I thought not. I think that says a lot about this governments real priorities.

There are no votes in this issue. Those caught are stupid. The PM said so. Maybe some lives could be saved. How many votes will this buy us? Oh. That few. Well we have to ensure taxpayers get value for money after all they are paying for these ads aren't they?

Yes these people are stupid. Yes these people are adults and they are responsible for their own actions. Some of them are also in dire situations and logic goes out the door.

One has to wonder though if a well designed tv and mail campaign caught by some of these people at the right time might also save them.

It won't save all of them but at least it could be said to those caught, don't say you weren't warned.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Ian Buchanan, of Charles Darwin University fame, reviews Doug Henwood’s book After the New Economy.

Mr Buchanan shows how even Europe is part of Asia in this technologically challenging example: ‘A certain European entrepreneur working in the IT sector made his fortune selling an instant transcription service over the internet. Claiming he was using state of the art voice recognition software, he advertised the real-time transcription of verbal texts. The idea was, you speak into a microphone and the computer rapidly spews back your text in written form. But it turns out that no such software exists. Rather what happens is your text is transmitted by firewire to a sweatshop in India where hundreds of data-entry people sit at desks listening to and transcribing calls. This story highlights two salient points often lost in the hype of the so-called information age—the productivity gains technology makes available don’t always occur the way we think they do; however dependent on computers we think we’ve become, we still have not rid ourselves of labouring bodies.’ Actually existing capitalism

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Jozef Imrich, Not that I agree or disagree with your point (since I haven't really read it), but what in any way does it have to do with drugs in Asia, Asian sovereignty, or Australian's either running drugs or asking the Government to overrule other nation's sovereignty?

Does it have a point? If it does, is it suitable to be said in this particular context, as opposed to in a more suitable (read 'on topic') article comments section?

Simon Ellis, whatever their motivations, it was criminally stupid to run drugs in Asia. Whatever their character, it was criminally stupid to have, or even be anywhere near, drugs in Asia.

John Thornton, the issue has had enough free attention to last a lifetime, but an information package, perhaps on the DFAT website, on the consequences of criminal activity in various countries, along with stern warnings regarding the fact that Australia will not overly intervene in any sovereign nation's affairs, especially its democratic neighbours, might help ram the point home.

Bill Avent, I think apart from DFAT sending out the clearest possible message on the issue, the only way to garner more attention is to send out bullets with the fridge magnets, to show the possible consequences of breaking the law. You can't get any more clear than that, can you.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Hi Michelle Davis, my comments about 'giving young people a break' apply to teens and many younger people in their early twenties - it should be quite apparent to everyone that not all people develop at the same rate and a 23 year old really could be acting like a 17/18 year old. I say this in the context - and I have no link - of the teen psychologists in the USA who successfully argued to ban the execution of teen offenders on the basis that they demonstrated that people in their late teens literally do not have the required physically developed brainpower to think through the logical conclusions of what their actions may lead to.

Hence the reason we find so many teens act in foolhardy and dangerous ways. They simply are incapable of thinking there may be a result to driving at a furious pace or taking drugs in a foreign land.

I also think that if we as a nation are prepared to invade a foreign country that has never harmed us because we perceive it is the correct thing to do, and in the process kill thousands of innocent citizens then we are capable of expressing to the Indonesian government that certain aspects of their legal system that do not mirror ours are abhorent in their barbarousness.

To not do so labels us as hypocrits of the worst kind particularly as I pointed out the sheer laxity in which our Government prosecutes the real cause of the drugs trade - the customers from all sections of our society from parlaimentarians to policeman and teenagers who purchase the drugs and give rise to the trade.

Naturally Indonesia can ignore us and probably will but to simply issue warnings to young people who may not take notice whilst ignoring lawbreakers in your own country is pretty perverse.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart, you must be deeply disappointed that Mr Heidelberg rates you as "non-partisan". How far do you have to go before he thinks you're potentially RW enough to add balance here?

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord wrote: "I haven't paid my yearly membership to the RWDB club yet this year, Martin, as souls of the unborn and tears of the innocent are hard to come by these days. And yes, the Enlightenment, the Rennaisance, Human Rights, the 21st Century, I know them all. What's your point?"

I don't understand the first sentence, but your article Mugabe - A Call to Action (AKA There's The Bad Guy, Let's Lynch Him) entitles you to free membership renewal of the RWDB club.

My point was that we are evolving or should be. You keep harking back to the stone age with your advocacy of violence first.

Michelle Davis wrote: Break the rules, you suffer the sanctions ... we all learn this (or I should hope we do) from babyhood inside our families.

You seem to be taking a pragmatic approach. However, society's sanctions are mostly ignorant. Sure we need to stop violence with sanctions and need practical rules to keep things going, but this is merely to kerb the animal instincts in us while we get on with evolving.

But on the negative side the inherited rules of dead people from centuries ago rule us. Or those in power use those rules to rule us. Isn't it true that rulers harp on about rules to stay in power? It's not for our benefit. And they flaunt so many rules themselves. In a world of hypocricy, it's tempting to tune out with drugs or to justify one's own behaviour with ideas like, "At least I'm not blowing up thousands of innocent people in another country."

Instead of emphasising rules, we should emphasise our higher instincts, then we might reach a point where fewer rules are necessary. We fear the animal in us so much that we are blind to our potential.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

David Roffey, no, he rates my article as 'non partisan'.

I think if he did an article by article approach, you would end up with four being right, and two being non partisan. My articles are often more centrist then my statements - it takes argument to bring out the RWDB in me.

But either way, I may add balance, but I certainly do not bring balance.

Martin Gifford: “My point was that we are evolving or should be. You keep harking back to the stone age with your advocacy of violence first.”

Not really violence first, more violence final. First reaction from the international community has been:
- Sporting Sanctions
- Slightly increased economic sanctions (that do more harm than good for the people most in need, especially with 75% out of work (this from Africa's second wealthiest country in 1980).
- A UN inspector to check out housing (with a report expected sometime before December, fantastic work, isnt it?)

That adds up to not a real lot, does it? The international community is having its time to act. That time is now. Nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing. Reports of starvation in government run camps, 1000% inflation, further destruction of homes, economic collapse.

Higher instincts count for little, when you are starving. Especially when the government isn't allowing aid agencies to reach those most in need.

Your peaceful methods are having their day, Martin. The result will be seen soon.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord wrote: "The international community is having its time to act. Nothing is happening. Your peaceful methods are having their day, Martin. The result will be seen soon."

Stuart, Doing nothing is not my method for solving the Zimbabwe problem. Doing nothing means nothing changes.

I agree that failures by the international community are appalling. But that doesn't logically lead to the necessity of starting Shock and Awe Part 2.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Martin Gifford, my article was based on urgency. The media will play out the truth of that statement. Military action was, and continues to be, the fastest means of response to removing regimes such as Mugabe's and providing help to the people. Etherial actions such as using 'communications and PR skills' to try and remove dictators don't really cut it. And sending in troops that don't fire but wear 'body armour' doesn't really cut it either. But who cares about reality when ideology comes into play?

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord, "But who cares about reality when ideology comes into play?"

From your record here, you certainly don't.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord, The urgency is in the needs of the people. Initially, it is food, medical attention, and accommodation. Then it is to get them beyond the need of ever needing help again, mainly by promoting education.

It should be relatively easy to fulfil these needs without killing people. What we would need is large numbers, good equipment, and good strategy.

By not killing people, you also build up your self-esteem and moral authority, which will serve as an example and will come in handy next time. Other countries trust you and are more willing to help, which makes it cost effective in the long-term.

I appreciate your passion, but I think your frustration makes you leap to appalling violent counterproductive solutions. War just moves the problem around. How many wars have their been? When will be the last war?

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Martin Gifford, you don't really seem to know much about Zimbabwe, do you? Mugabe isn't letting aid in. Let me repeat that - he isn't letting aid in.

Churches I know of have been innundated with refugees from the destroyed suburbs and villages, and unable to look after them all.

Government camps haven't been letting people bring in food, and supplies have been sporadic at best.

Numerous people are being pushed onto extremely marginal farmland in an attempt to disperse the opposition voting population within the ZANU-PF traditionally strong areas. Most don't have any of the means to grow food, no houses, no real access to clean water.

Mugabe is giving the finger to the UN, which can do (and has done) nothing apart from sending a housing inspector to the country.

Again, almost all aid isn't being allowed to be used.

What equipment and strategy do you have for forcing a dictator backed by his military and other machinery of state to look after his people, Martin? What, exactly? I'm not asking for meaningless words, I mean concrete action. What should be done? What effective strategy is there?

And if you move men in to distribute the aid directly, and Mugabe sees it as a challenge to his power and fires upon them, what do you do then? Do you let your people die? Do you let the people you are trying to help starve?

What are your strategies, Martin? Communication doesn't work, he owns almost all the means. Marketing? Right. What else do you have?

Your ideals are great, but a man with a gun doesn't care how silver your tongue is, Martin. And a man with all the guns, and willing followers in the government and military, doesn't have to listen to what you say, or care about.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Stuart Lord, You again missed many important points that I made in this and other posts. It’s making me think that I might be wasting my time talking to you. You keep asking for concrete action, I suggest concrete action, then you ask for concrete action again. It’s as if you think that concrete action = shock and awe, and that unless you see blood and smell napalm in my responses, you will ask, “Where’s the concrete action?” again.

I said that, in an emergency, you need a large force of well-equipped military. If you overwhelmingly outnumber the opposition without attacking them, then they are unlikely to attack you. There are all kinds of diversionary tactics you can use. I read that the Australian military rounded up many Iraqi posts in Iraq before the war started without killing anyone. You can develop weapons that don’t kill. You can use better armour that protects your people. I don’t believe Mugabe would start firing on Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders who were only protecting the people. Can you imagine how it would look with a huge force landing in Zimbabwe to defend the masses but without dropping thousands of bombs? Mugabe and his forces would be humiliated internationally. Then you have to give him an escape hatch so that he doesn’t have to fight it out. Even with a little international pressure he toned down a few things for a while. I think you overestimate him and underestimate us. His military seem to be a bunch of cowboys in jeeps. We can stop them easily. The more we employ non-violent methods the better we will get at it.

I also said that if you demonstrate goodwill, then you build up your moral authority for future missions. This overwhelmingly defeats your strategy of destroying international goodwill and moral authority by dropping lots of bombs and killing lots of people.

I also said that we should develop international relations and start an organisation akin to the UN Security Council. The more effective humanitarian interventions we have, the more we build up our moral authority and the easier it will be to get people to join us.

I made many other concrete suggestions and you can go back and look for them if you like. But if you continue to pull out single words like ‘communication’ and ‘marketing’ and ignore what I have written, then I’ll let you have the last word.

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Government fights Bali Nine bid

By Karen Michelmore
October 10, 2005


THE Australian Government today requested a court application by two of the Bali Nine be dismissed on the grounds that it was an abuse of the legal system.

Scott Rush, 19, and Renae Lawrence, 27, have launched Federal Court action in Darwin seeking access to documents and records about their arrest.

They are questioning the legality of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in assisting Indonesian authorities in their arrest, which has exposed them to the death penalty.

The so-called Bali Nine were arrested in Bali in April after an alleged tip-off from the AFP.

Mr Rush and Ms Lawrence are among members of the group allegedly caught with packets of heroin strapped to their bodies.

The pair – who could face the firing squad if found guilty in Indonesia – are seeking access to the documents to see if they can mount a possible court challenge to the legality of the AFP's actions.

But Australian Government solicitor Tom Howe said the Government would file a motion asking that the pair's application be dismissed.

He suggested the pair consider filing a Freedom of Information application to obtain access to the documents instead.

Mr Howe said there were concerns the information sought in the legal action may be used in the pair's trials in Indonesia, which begin this week.

"That involves an abuse of the process of this court of a most serious kind," Mr Howe said.

The Government would also ask the application be struck out because the applicants did not make "reasonable inquiries" to obtain the information before the court proceedings.

He said handing over the documents could raise issues under the Privacy Act and the secrecy provisions of the AFP.

"In order to avoid this we have raised the possibility of a request under the Freedom of Information Act."

The pair's lawyer, Colin McDonald QC, described the motion as "intimidatory".

Court documents allege Mr Rush's father Lee tipped off police that his son was going to Indonesia for a drug-related matter around April 7, in an attempt to save him from the death penalty.

However, the application for preliminary discovery said the AFP failed to warn Scott he was under surveillance as promised, and instead helped Indonesian authorities arrest him in Bali, exposing him to the threat of the death penalty. ... more

re: When will Aussies realise the party's over in Asia

Media release from the Law Council of Australia

12 October 2005

Review of AFP Guidelines - Matter of Urgency

A review of AFP Guidelines for the international sharing of information in death penalty cases is an urgent priority for the Federal government, according to the Law Council of Australia.

“The cooperation provided by the AFP in the period leading up to formal laying of charges against the Bali 9 could well ensure their conviction, the imposition of the death penalty and their execution”, said today Law Council President, John North.

The current AFP Guidelines on information sharing between our police and their international counterparts presumes a similar legal system exists between Australia and all other foreign countries.

Mr North said, “This ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t take sufficient account of very significant differences that can exist between law enforcement systems.”

The guidelines allow the AFP to cooperate with its counterparts up to the point of charge in a death penalty case but not afterwards, except where cooperation is requested and the Australian Attorney-General has consented.

“In Australia, both arrest and charge are close to simultaneous, whereas the practice of Indonesian authorities is not to charge until long after arrest and just prior to trial,” said Mr North.

In the case of the Bali 9, this has allowed the AFP to provide assistance to Indonesian police for six months after their arrest. Clearly, in that time the case against them has been worked up to a state of completeness. Nor is it clear to what extent AFP assistance was provided prior to their arrest.

“AFP assistance prior to arrest in death penalty cases can be provided ‘as requested’ so it will be important to establish what Indonesian request was made and what assistance was provided. For the AFP to announce it will no longer cooperate with Indonesia after charges were laid is a hollow statement,” Mr North concluded.

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