Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Bali Nine and Their Advisors

I'm shocked at the extra four death sentences for the Bali Nine. But I've been shocked for a long time. Ever since they appealed their original verdicts, in fact. Seven of them hit the jackpot in the original trial and avoided a firing squad. FOR HEROIN TRAFFICKING in INDONESIA! These were lucky, lucky people. Surely the defence lawyers had to be telling them that.

But it's worse than that. A life sentence in Indonesia is routinely reduced to a 15-year sentence after five years of good behaviour. As a result with typical remissions a life sentence probably translates to maybe 15 years in total with the possibility that at any time the President might have a sudden attack of generosity and let them out even earlier. So not only had these lucky people avoided a firing squad but their sentences were nowhere near as bad as they sounded and a successful appeal was unlikely to reduce them in practice by more than two to three years.

So an appeal was so stupid it almost qualifies as suicide.

Which raises the question: were the defence lawyers telling them that? Or did the lawyers recommend the option that would lead to a continuing supply of Australian taxpayer dollars through a succession of further appeals and reviews?

And what were Australian embassy staff telling them? I cannot believe these people would have risked their lives for so little if they had been kept properly informed.

I dunno. Maybe they did get good advice. Maybe they really were that dumb. But I can't quite believe that. But then, I’m not the kind of person to go waltzing around an Indonesian airport with heroin strapped to my legs, either.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Muslims and me

On the 28th August 2006, I posted this to Yahoo 'Top Stories':

I've generally taken some pride about not being prejudiced on the basis of culture or religion. The girl at my local fish and chipper is Arabic and she's a delight. My current dentist from Afghanistan got me out of intense pain when previous dentists had failed. I have no trouble assessing Muslim job applicants on merit.

Yet last night I was sitting in a bus, saw an Arabic lad with a backpack heading in my direction and had the unworthy thought that I hoped he wasn't going to get on my bus. And that is a huge problem. Muslims can tell us that Islam is a religion of peace till the cows come home, but we know of a spate of atrocities by Muslims around the world against civilian targets. Spain, New York, Bali1, Bali2 and many others. And of course the many foiled attempts - USA, Britain, Australia, the Philippines and again many others.

Of course, it isn't fair that a religious group should be judged on the basis of a small number of psychos. But neither is it fair that we should be under constant threat of attack from Islam’s lunatic fringe.

And my perception is that the Muslims of Australia have not tried hard enough to condemn these atrocities and attempted atrocities. Any time a Muslim cleric gets TV time and shows even the faintest glimmer of understanding towards these evil people it drives another nail into the coffin of East-West multiculturalism. If they're serious about living in peace I believe the Muslims are going to have to find many more ways to show it than is expected of non-Muslims. That isn't fair. But I'm dashed if I can see any alternative.

On the 3rd of September 2006, Peter Costello stated that there was
a need for the Islamic leadership of this country to stand up and contend unequivocally that terrorism is never justified.

Then on the 8th of September 2006, Jim Schembri published a column which starts:

Should I move? I'm just sitting here, on my way to work, reading my magazine and stealing furtive glances at the legs of the young lady on other side of the aisle. Then he arrives. He's a pleasant-looking guy, young, with a Middle-Eastern complexion. I make room so he can take the seat opposite. He smiles a "thank you". I smile back. In his lap is a backpack. On his head is a beanie that reads "Australia". In his hand is a mobile.
Probably a uni student on his way to a lecture. Or an office worker. Or off to meet friends for a coffee. Or somebody posing as a normal citizen preparing to make me Australia's first suicide bombing victim.

Hmm ... interesting coincidences. Who knows? And it's no big deal. Only, I'm not even sure that my original post represents how I feel. I was just making conversation.