Ross sees sinister motives behind renewed debate over the death penalty.
Tuesday’s Jakarta Post had a frontpage report on the handful of convicts recently executed, whom it identified as two Nigerian drug-traffickers and certain Indonesians who murdered several neighbours. It might usefully have gone into detail about the so-called ‘dukun', who killed 42 innocents, all women, so far as I know, and was greatly mourned by Amnesty International, a body ever-ready to shed tears for scumbags.
Tuesday’s item displayed the JP’s notorious left-lib bias, in its description of the five executions as a death penalty ‘spree’. Such hyperbole, to describe five instances of capital punishment in a country of more than two hundred million people, where Islamist swine who behead schoolgirls on religious grounds get preposterous sentences of a mere twenty years, is just daft.
But perhaps there is more to this than mere bad journalism. The night before, we had tuned into Metro TV’s late current affairs programme, which focused also on ‘hukum mati’, with an underlying theme of how capital punishment in this country seemed unfairly to target the less well-off.
Perhaps so, and all the better reason to expand its use dramatically, I reflected, my thoughts interestingly mirrored on the 22nd, when I got home in time to catch another Metro tea-time feature, which centred on the idea that corruption convicts ought to face the death penalty, a proposal floated, if I’m not mistaken, by Wiranto in his last presidential bid, and one that many locals and expats would surely welcome.
Then, after I’d devoured my nightly ration of rendang, TV One had yet another programme about executions, in which the phrase the ‘death penalty season’ was deployed (more hyperbole!) Next day, TV One featured a debate on capital punishment (7.30pm. 23/7) which would have been better if they'd got some big-name speakers, but proved lively nevertheless.
What fascinates me is this sudden prominence across a wide range of media of this issue.
None of the death row inmates was remotely to be lamented, except naturally by their immediate kin, and in that dukun's case probably not much by them. So why the fuss?
That question might be answered by another article, on page 2 of Tuesday’s JP, in which the devoutly-to-be-wished-for, but so far unrealized, execution of Amrozi and the other Bali Beasts is promised ‘before Ramadan’. The latest pathetic excuse for delaying this gladsome day is the failure of the Attorney General’s office to receive a copy of the Supreme Court’s rejection of the strangely reluctant 'martyrs’ appeal. (You’d think all those gorgeous maidens in paradise would be a destination eagerly sought!)
I’m not totally familiar with the geography of government buildings in Jakarta, but one would have imagined that a keen tukang ojek could have fetched that necessary scrap of paper across town inside half an hour. Never mind! Clearly there is no great sense of urgency in the corridors of power to mete out justice to Amrozi and his fellow-bigots along the same lines as was done with the three Christians in the outer islands a year ago. For already we have a spokesman, a deputy A-G no less, Abdul Hakim Ritonga, asserting that if the good deed isn’t done by the Holy Month, further postponement may be necessary, 'as otherwise we'd be showing no respect to Muslims'.
Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus Da Silva & Marianus Riwu.
So Amrozi may get another round of play-time, to avoid upsetting ‘Muslims’? Very odd! Decent Muslims, as opposed to the Laskar Setan caricatures exemplified by Amrozi and Co., should surely be sufficiently upset by the abominations committed in their name by Jamaah Islamiyah and be anxious to see those pigs put down asap. It is a tad unconvincing that the occasion of religious ritual should be offered as a potential cop-out, the executions possibly dragged out for further long weeks.
Of maybe more significance, therefore, was the JP’s inclusion of a comment by SBY’s office that the President was bound by the law and could not intervene unless a request for clemency landed on his desk. The Man is not going to step in - unless he is pushed.
Now reconsider all that media sound and fury. What does it portend? Why, this month, the sudden televised debate, why, all of a sudden, arguments deployed to revise the scope of death penalty law?
'Kontroversi Hukum Mati' was the tag attached to several tv items. There is no ‘controversy' in Indonesia, except for that generated by a handful of elitist intellectuals, similar to their counter-parts in the West, who are hopelessly out of touch with what the man on the Clapham Omnibus, (or, here, the M11 microlet through Slipi) really thinks. Paradoxically, the left-libbers for once share (no doubt uncomfortably) a goal with those Islamists who object to their activist allies paying a fair price for wholesale slaughter of innocents.
Between them, it could be argued, they - or at least their media pals - have set off a disputatious chorus calculated to stall justice for the murderous Bali Bomb pigs. What will happen if the 'death to corruptors' proposal is taken up and and a wholesale review of the law invoked? Would pending sentences be held back, sine die, or what? That would let lots of people off the hook.
It may be that SBY will have the guts to get on with the executions, rather than quail before local abolitionist/fanatic rantings, endorsed by the EU, Amnesty and Al Qaeda. Let’s hope he makes the right decision.