Wednesday, November 30, 2005

the Lee family's walled island

Read Joseph Koh's rationale for why Van Nyugen must die - what a charming little place Singapore is; makes you want to book a flight and visit tomorrow. I hope Australians will give this regime and all its major clients a wide berth in future.

a chatty hangman

Singapore hangman Darshan Singh, who has created a storm by speaking out on his job and his role in the looming execution of Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van. If Singapore Corrections did'nt sack him previously (as was reported) maybe they will now!! Downer's anger leaves me cold - its a pity he did'nt get quite so angry about the callousness of this nasty regime's disregard for human rights in the first place.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

playing cricket while an Australian hangs

This letter in The Age today struck a deep chord with me - it articulates better than I could hope to why a blog on asylum seeking got side-tracked into this horror.

"JOHN Howard tells the ABC (28/11) that the Australian electorate is sufficiently "intelligent" and "sophisticated" to be comfortable with his attending a cricket match on the day of Nguyen Tuong Van's execution.

Let's get this straight. This is the man whose Government held a mentally ill resident in immigration detention for several months and abandoned an Australian citizen in an overseas home for the dying for several years. His Government deports mentally ill residents to statelessness. It is paying for the detention on Lombok Island of more than 90 Afghan men, women and children four years after they reached Australian soil and claimed asylum.

No intelligence or sophistication are required to realise that no human rights abuse would be sufficient to put the PM off being photographed with a cricketer. All that's needed is cynicism."

Juliet Flesch, Kew

trade junkies...

Petty in The Age

its all about money (and cricket of course)

Writing in The Age, Tim Colebatch tells us 'why Howard won't fight the hangman':

"Yet for all the disgust Australians feel about the hanging of Nguyen, the ties between the two countries are too important for our Government to publicly embarrass Singapore. It is our key ally in the region, and played a big part in getting Australia invited to join the regional clubs: the Asian Regional Forum, the ASEAN free trade area, and now the inaugural East Asia Summit. In diplomatic terms, we owe it favours, not vice versa. John Howard and Alexander Downer are right not to capsize that relationship." Of course, that is if your only interest in life is the almighty dollar and not the means and circumstances by which and under which it is made.

And in another part of the same paper:

Howard made clear yesterday the match between his XI and the West Indies would go ahead — and he will attend it. He said he did not believe the public would want it abandoned, adding: "I have a duty as the host to go.

"I think the Australian people will understand that I didn't set the date of this man's execution," he told the ABC. "I had wished there was no date set for his execution."

The point he does'nt seem to get is the world (especially Singapore) is watching us and if our leader is out there satisfying his obsession with cricket how seriously was he in the first place about seeking clemency. It begs the question.

Monday, November 28, 2005

cricket tragic

As Van Nguyen is executed, Prime Minister John Howard will be at a cricket match.

letters from Changi - 'ready for angels'

"However, and more importantly, this whole experience, and the efforts made to spare me, has humbled me, enabling me to source a sense of comfort in giving back to anyone and everyone around me who are in need."


While Singapore sacks the hangman the PM gets ready for a cricket match

Singapore has sacked its long-serving hangman, less than a week before the scheduled execution of Australian drug trafficker Van Nguyen. You will remember the charming photograph of the jolly 74 year old so delicately portrayed on the front page of The Australian. (I stopped reading that paper on the strength of that travesty).

Meanwhile Howard is getting ready to host the Prime Minister's invitation cricket match on Friday, the same day of the execution. Its just not cricket Mr Howard and methinks you should read your famous political weather vane and 'do something' to appear at least to care for something beyond the next poll.

I hope the trade union movement in this country will implement a boycott of businesses associated with Singapore. The only messages that get through the highly censored blanket Singapore has thrown around itself to AVOID THE TRUTH are financial in nature. So if money is all that talks let's let them know what we think by choking the flow from our neck of the woods.

Sky News is reporting the ACTU will support trade sanctions against Singapore if all other avenues to save convicted drug smuggler Van Nguyen fail. ACTU President Sharan Burrow says the Government should be doing more to save Van Nguyen, and she will support trade sanctions if they are introduced. Burrow told Sky News that if there was enough support from unions, the ACTU may consider taking action itself.

The ACTU continues to display its vitality and heart in the fight against Howard's extremist attack on worker's rights. This latest show of support for Van Nguyen is not surprising.

Call for Australians to wear a yellow ribbon to protest hanging

Australians should wear a yellow ribbon on Thursday as a silent protest against the hanging in Singapore of Melbourne man Van Nguyen.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Amnesty report - SINGAPORE: The death penalty: A hidden toll of executions

"There is virtually no public debate about the death penalty in Singapore. The government has consistently maintained that capital punishment is not a human rights issue. Controls imposed by the government on the press and civil society organizations curb freedom of expression and are an obstacle to the independent monitoring of human rights, including the death penalty."

Read the 2004 Amnesty International report.

too little, too late

Prime Minister John Howard has told his Singaporean counterpart that there will be lingering resentment in Australia if Melbourne man Van Nguyen is executed.

"Lingering resentment" has to be one of the understatements of a decade of Howard misleading the Australian people.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Whitlam hits out at 'Chinese rogue port city'

At least the current leadership and erstwhile luminaries of Labor are working overtime to lobby the Singapore leadership to grant clemency to Van Nguyen. Both Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam are amongst prominent Australians to call on Singapore to put its house in order and stop the barbarism of the mandatory death penalty for drug smuggling.

Read the article in The Age.

Meanwhile our glorious leader runs around the planet trying to convince us that he really is compassionate and caring, playing cricket with the kiddies in Pakistan and supervising army medico administered needle jabs. He has criticised those who are desperately trying to influence Singapore in these final days to stop this horror. He refuses to raise the issue at CHOGM, he refuses to draw on the broader bilateral relationship to get leverage and he is fulsome in his statements (with his sad face on) that it is a lost cause. What a man!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

a place to die

Place of execution: Singapore's Changi Prison, where Nguyen Tuong Van is scheduled to hang in eight days

Singapore is believed to use "the long drop" method, which is meant to be the most 'merciful'. The correct length of the rope for an individual is crucial to the 'success' of a hanging - if success is defined as a quick death with little suffering.

A key measure of any society is the quality of its compassion and mercy. Singapore has a chance to redeem the inhumanity of this ongoing barbarism but I fear it will not...

the hanging state

More than 400 prisoners have been hanged in Singapore since 1991. Given the size of the city-state, this is possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to the country's population of just over four million people. The execution figures include a significant percentage of foreign nationals.

Australia treated with contempt by Singapore Government

The Singapore Government says Melbourne man Van Nguyen will be hanged next Friday. Its insistence is borne out in a letter sent to Canberra from the Speaker of the Singapore Parliament.

In the letter sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, David Hawker, his Singaporean counterpart, Abdullah Tarmugi, says:

"We have an obligation to protect the lives of those who could be ruined by the drugs Nguyen was carrying. He knew what he was doing and the consequences of his actions".

These are not the actions of a friendly government and signal a callous disregard for the bilateral relationship. Australians should respond accordingly.

let the light of democracy into Singapore

Nguyen could have been spared if Singaporean judges had discretionary powers. Authoritarian regimes manipulate the justice system for political outcomes and that appears to be what is happening in Singapore. It is time for genuine democracy to take root and for people who stand up for human rights in that country to be given a voice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Singapore: killing the small guys while doing business with the drug lords

In Singapore there is no forgiveness for drug crimes. The Government has convinced its citizens that going soft on drugs will bring down this wealthy society. The irony of a country so vehemently opposed to drugs in its own domain investing heavily in Burma, the source of the region's heroin supply, goes unreported in Singapore.

The Opposition politician Chee Soon Juan cites the Singapore Government Investment Corporation's contribution to the Myanmar Fund in the 1990s as an example of this hypocrisy. The fund is controlled by Lo Hsing Han, one of Burma's most notorious opium drug lords, through his Asia World Company. Lo's son, Stephen Law, is married to a Singaporean and is based in Singapore. Read the article in the SMH.

So those people that get all righteous about the right of this country to hang drug smugglers might like to consider the morality of giving comfort to this type of regime.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Time to act

Australians angry with the Singaporean Government's determination to proceed with the barbaric act of hanging Van Nguyen might want to consider ways and means of registering their protest. I suggest you might consider ending your relationship with companies such as Optus (primarily owned by SingTEL) and Singaporean airlines. I will be cancelling my mobile account with Optus and have advised the Singaporean High Commission I will never travel to Singapore again, although I have been a regular visitor since the early 70s. It may be just a token in the overall scheme of things but if enough people act Singapore will get the message.

Let them know we are angry and we will not tolerate this barbarism.

You can contact the Prime Minister of Singapore directly.

Friday, November 18, 2005

getting the news of a hanging via the press

Signalling just how much damage has been done to our relations with Asia, John Howard's calls for clemency for Van Nguyen have been ignored. The Singaporean Prime Minister did'nt even extend the courtesy of letting Howard know the date for hanging had been fixed and had been communicated to Mrs Nguyen by 'special delivery' post. This is the downside of a decade of unilateralism, chest-beating and downright arrogance. Australians are all the poorer for the limited capacity of this man and his government.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A mother's agony

Time is running out for Van Nguyen and our Government has not done enough

Today (Thursday 17 November) we learn that Mrs Nguyen has been informed through the post that her son will be hanged on 2 December. Can you imagine a more insensitive way of conveying this brutal message? The Singaporean Government has displayed the hubris and disregard for human rights typical of authoritarian regimes throughout history. Australians who think this action is unnacceptable should consider ways and means of registering their protest. The Amnesty International website provides the email addresses of key actors on the Singaporean side.

Monday, November 14, 2005

cries for help...

The ongoing hunger strike at Villawood and the weekend fires at Baxter appear to be further cries for help from people at the end of their tether. Mindless brutalisation of people will often lead to desperate acts...the victims decide their only option is to harm themselves or to take violent actions to attract attention. This ongoing human rights violation remains Australia's open sore, along with the appalling neglect of Aboriginal communities. If this is the way of life Howard and his supporters are protecting, its time for a serious rethink.

Of course DIMIA and Minister Vanstone will continue to demonise these people and beat their collective chests on the implications for visa applications etc etc etc, and, yes, the mantra of 'we will decide the manner and timing of people coming to this country' will ring in our ears. But the whole system reeks of abuse and will doubtless be the subject of a Royal Commission one day.

West Timor seven claim asylum

Contrary to earlier reports a group of West Timorese people who made landfall at a remote West Australian beach before being intercepted by a fisheries patrol vessel are claiming asylum. Read The Age article.