Van Tuong Nguyen

by Brian on November 26, 2005

Next Friday, Singapore plans to hang Van Tuong Nguyen, a 25 year old man from Glen Waverley, the Melbourne suburb where I grew up. Nguyen’s crime against the state of Singapore was to change planes in Singapore while en route from Cambodia to Australia carrying 396 grams of heroin. I can see, dimly, how doing this kind of thing could be a crime against Cambodia, and a crime against Australia, but I can’t see how this kind of action could justifiably be punished by Singapore, when he hadn’t even “passed through passport control into Singapore”: and clearly had no intention of doing so.

And of course even if we do think Singapore is justified in punishing Nguyen for his crimes, the idea that hanging is the appropriate punishment for attempting to sell heroin would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high. Either Singapore should hang people for putting together plans to commit murder, or they are implying that drug trading is worse than murder. Either option is nonsensical.

Anyway, at this stage the important thing isn’t to debate just how absurd Singapore’s position is, but to do something. “Amnesty International Australia”: has a number of links for writing to the salient Singaporese ministers to beg for them to change their minds. The very least one could expect our government to be doing is not doing more favours for the Singapore government while they plan to murder an Australian, but that seems “too much for John Howard”:, even when proposed by one of his own MPs.

Boris Johnson on Bombing Al-Jazeera

by Tom on November 26, 2005

As a follow-up to Chris’s post on the subject, I notice that Boris Johnson MP, the editor of The Spectator, has offered to publish the memo detailing Bush’s alleged conversation with Blair about bombing the al-Jazeera TV station. (That last link is to the Speccie’s website, which requires registration; if you can’t be bothered, Johnson’s piece is also available on his own website).

Johnson is of course a notorious self-publicist, and he may have made some shrewd calculation about the actual likelihood of his being passed the memo versus the brownie points to be had from posing as a courageous editor standing up to the government. None the less, fraternal relations between the American and British right have reached a pretty desperate state when the leading article in Britain’s most prominent conservative magazine contains the following sentences:

Outlandish and inconceivable the story certainly is, but what we really want to know is: is it true? If true, then this magazine would finally abandon its long struggle to find anything to support in US policy towards Iraq and the Middle East in general.

Shrill indeed. I doubt that Johnson would have kept his job for very long if he’d tried taking this line when that greedy crook Conrad Black owned the paper, but when the ship starts to sink, even the most polished and charming of rats has to consider an exit strategy.