Trick is to stop its citizens bringing drugs into our region and then protesting about tough punishment when they're caught.
By Seah Chiang Nee.
Nov 20, 2005
Unless the trend is reversed, Canberra could one day become a major supplier of drug traffickers for Southeast Asia that even its mandatory death sentence could not stop.
In the same way that Pakistan or Saudi Arabia are considered to be a source to produce Islamic militants to the world.
And heavens forbid if that should happen, Australian leaders would then have a busy time running around persuading the region's governments to go easy on criminals.
More important is the potential friction between Canberra, which bars capital punishment and countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand etc, which have tough lasw against drugs, including mandatory death for trafficking.
Two facts make it a potentially explosive issue if the two sides were to handle it wrongly.
1. Many Australians have little faith in the courts and the administration of justice in Southeast Asia, and
2. They passionately believe that Australians should not be 'humiliated" or punished by developing countries who may be corrupt or inefficient. There is a widespread denial mood, arguing the accused are somehow the victims of circumstances.
Besides, the Canberra government and the people do not regard drug taking or trafficking as seriously as the their counterparts in Southeast Asia.
Explaining Australia's concerns, one Australian wrote:
"A factor contributing to concern about the death penalty in ASEAN is the failure of ASEAN governments to release information about judicial executions carried out in their countries. In several of the countries executions have been carried out in secret. The lack of official statistics means that the true number of executions remains unknown. There is also very little public information about prisoners currently on death row in the majority of the countries."
Ultimately, the problem lies in the rising number of Australians who deal in drugs or use them in the region. They are available and cheap. Some resort to traffic them in Australia or Europe.
One of them, naturalised Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, was caught in Singapore, admitted to the crime and was sentenced to be hanged on Dec 2.
Earlier a group known as the 'Bali Nine' was charged (with three facing death sentence) in Indonesia while two other Australian drug traffickers are on death row in Vietnam.
Other recent cases:
* A Bali court found Australian model Michelle Leslie guilty of using ecstasy and sentenced her to three months jail, a period of custody she has already served.
* Another Australian lady Schapelle Corby is serving a 20-year jail term for drug smuggling.
* Australian mine worker, John Michael Kelly, 45, arrested in East Kalimantan in September for allegedly using methamphetamine could spend the next five years in jail.
* Australian nurse has been arrested after allegedly trying to carry 3.2kg of heroin across the Swiss-Italian border.
* Former school teacher Graham Clifford Payne, 20, Adelaide, was arrested in Medan in August with a pouch full of methaphetamines and could be jailed for 20 years.
* A Sydney man, 30 arrived in Italy from Venezuela reported with 10 km of high-quality cocaine hidden in false bottoms of his luggage. He was arrested while preparing to board a flight to Turkey and faces 20 years in prison
At the moment 11 Australians are languishing in Bali jails on drug charges, yet as an Australian blogger says they are still doing it. He adds:-
"Any Australian who gets arrested in another country on drug related charges now, after the goings on in Indonesia in the past year, would have to be pretty damned stupid, and totally blind to the world happening around them, more specifically, the perils of being a drug-trafficker or user. It's ridiculous for anybody to think that Australian travellers aren't being scrutinised or singled-out by Customs in other countries.."
In a letter to Jakarta Post, Indonesian Y.Saputra said he hoped "the Australian government should do more to prevent its citizens from trafficking drugs to Indonesia".
Other, he added, Australians would continue to remain in jail or face the death sentence.
It will be better for the Aussies to control their drug problems than to keeping quarrelling with their neighbours whenever their drug-traffickers or users are caught.