The Indonesian finger

My sympathy for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is tempered by the fact that they knew what they were doing when they embarked on their criminal enterprise; a misguided act that turned, by virtue of its location, into a long and ultimately successful suicide bid. It is hardly the first time the path to riches has become the road to ruin. The reaction to their deaths will be brief and angry in Australia (no one seems to care much that six other people died with them), before everyone moves on, surfing the rolling waves of the 24 hour news cycle.

It is both interesting and pathetic that they were killed in the causes of punishment and deterrent. Indonesia is one of a number of countries which still cling to the barbaric practice of murdering criminals. And not just common or garden spontaneous murder, either. Capital punishment is the ultimate form of ordered, calculated and premeditated murder. Ironic, then, that the punishment in these countries for murder is also capital punishment.

Is it a deterrent? Clearly not, as State Murder Nations continue to slaughter criminals on a regular basis. Is it a punishment? Of course, though I often wonder if a lifetime of reflection while confined to a prison is more suitable to punish major crime. If I was a cynical person, I would mention cost at this point.

Murder as punishment is unlikely to disappear from Indonesia for some time, especially while first world countries like the US (at least their killing states) also still struggle with the concept of civilisation. Perhaps, one day, governments will commit real resources to tackling the causes of the demand for criminal enterprises rather than concentrating on the pointy illegal entrepreneurial end of the business. One day.

In the meantime, the Australian government and the opposition will jump up and down, Tony Abbott will rattle his sabre, withdraw the ambassador, threaten to withhold aid, review trade treaties, issue travel warning and implement various other large and small and similarly futile gestures. But all this is for domestic consumption; public anger at a ‘ totally unacceptable’ act and anger that Australian politicians were completely and humiliatingly powerless to stop Indonesia from murdering two of our citizens.

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Indonesia could not care less, a point they have just illustrated spectacularly. They will protest Australia’s reaction and complain about the interference in their sovereign affairs and legal system, but it’s all for diplomatic show and doesn’t mean a thing.

Indonesia has just told Australia in no uncertain terms to go f**k itself and, as throughout the history of the world, normal relations, after a short pause for tantrums, will resume.


Do you agree with Steven? What are your opinions on what will happen now that the two Australians have been executed?