Bali Nine executions a sign of weakness

Photo with thanks to the Jakarta Globe

Photo with thanks to the Jakarta Globe

Bali Nine executions a sign of weakness

Bali Nine executions a sign of weakness for a president who clearly does not have the personal authority to override his debts to those whose support gave him power.

Bali Nine executions a sign of weakness is in response to an article entitled Hikmahanto: Show Strength by Ignoring Death Penalty Outcry posted on the Jakarta Globe website April 27 2015, just days before the scheduled execution of two young Australian boys who made bad mistakes and who have since reformed.

“For the sake of proving that nobody can interfere with Indonesian sovereignty, the government should ignore the growing global outcry and push ahead with the execution of drug convicts on death row.” Hikmahanto

“… if the government bows out now, the nation will become a global laughing stock.” Hikmahanto

Hikmahanto also criticised Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, for calling on President Joko Widodo to cancel the pending executions. According to Hikmahanto, the UN chief had no business giving orders like a head of state.

There is no need to get nationalistic about this with regard to Indonesians sovereignty. Irrelevant.

This is not as much an issue between governments as it is between neighbouring peoples.

It is about neighbours, nations that are very close and whose interests overlap, and, whose people have very strong ties.

If I want to cut down a tree that shades my neighbours house then he is entitled to request, again and again, if he thinks it is really wrong to do it. If he does so politely, and does not resort to calling me names, then I am obliged to consider his opinion, even to the detriment of my own ideas like adding a new room.

Abbott was wrong to refer to the tsunami help Australians, individually and as a nation, gave freely and willingly.

However, if my neighbour helps to rebuild my house after it has burnt down, I do, I should feel an obligation to take his opinion into consideration, to honour his assistance, and not just write it off as meaningless.

Not refuse to take calls from your neighbour, like Jokowi and his senior ministers refused to take Abbott’s and Bishop’s calls.

The collecting coins movement was childish – if Indonesia was serious they can always write a cheque – and distracting from the issue, a cheap shot by some shallow politician manipulating public opinion.

We will see about coin collections if Australia cancels its Indonesian aid if the executions go ahead. Let’s also see if any of Indonesian’s power elite make up any shortfall.

I was at the Woodfood Folk Festival when news of the tsunami broke, and was amazed how immediately big collection tins were set up all over, and EVERYONE gave freely and generously, and all the performers beseeched their audience to give more.

This pressure that Hikmahanto is apparently feeling is actually about more about the 250,000 Australians who have put their names to petitions for mercy. Given that only 10% of people who agree with something will put their name to it, this actually represents 2.5 million Australians pleading for mercy.

Many of these may have made contributions when our neighbour was in trouble, who are not asking for the favour to be returned, or for these boys to be released.

Rather, these people, seeing that these boys are rehabilitated and helping others, and that their actions have prompted international studies about reforming prisoners, are requesting politely and peacefully that their lives be allowed go on and continue to inspire others.

Feel like commenting on Bali Nine executions a sign of weakness or this issue in general? Leave your comment at the bottom of the page.

This issue, that Hikmahanto thinks is about Australia and the UN trying to bully Indonesia, is more about someone taking into consideration their neighbours in how they handle areas of disagreement. It is not about being bullied. If the Australian Government threatened sanctions that is bullying.

If they say it will affect relations, that is the reality. If the people are broken hearted of course there are consequences.

To compare these executions with the previous ones in China on the surface looks reasonable. However, there are differences.

The Australian and Indonesia people are friends in ways China can never be. To snub a government is one things, and lasts a political cycle like Hikmahanto thinks this ‘drama’ will.

To snub a people is entirely different.

The Australian Government made their appeals to China but they fell on deaf ears. The issue of the Bali Nine executions has attracted the compassion of the average Australian who makes no excuses for their actions, only a case for compassion.

3 million Australians come to Bali every year and some of these people support orphanages, hospitals, provide support for poor people when their own government does not care about them and support individuals to build better lives for themselves. Plus Plus plus.

This execution is like a dagger in the heart to those 250,000 Australians who signed a mercy petition. There may not be anger and violence reactions, but daggers in the heart hurt, and have consequences, not by a government but by a people.

The Australian government gives money to build roads, schools – these things qualify as the actions of a friend. And simply put, a friend’s needs need to be considered. If a friend has helped you out, and then you refuse to reciprocate, then the next time you need help they may not give it as freely.

It’s simply human nature.

Indonesian drug dealers who import and sell drugs to Indonesians do not get executed in the same way bules do. See Bali Nine: death for outsiders, but leniency for locals

Indonesia itself appeals for clemency for its own citizens on death row in other countries for drug offences.

Does Hikmahanto also think that by Indonesia requesting these things that it is undermining the sovereignty of those countries?

Australians are not like the Indonesian bombers who murdered innocent people for a political goal. Nor would they ask for clemency for such people.

Personally I think Jokowi refusing to even consider granting mercy is a sign of the weakness of his presidency as clearly he is not his own man.

As the first man of the people to become president Jokowi does not have the power base to be independent.

When his predecessors chose to ignore this issue, nobody was be bothered, as his supporters understood real politik.

Ban Ki Moon is not ordering anyone to do anything. He cannot do that, and for Hikmahanto to suggest otherwise is to make him guilty of spreading the propaganda of his own agenda, further relegating his opinion to the margins where his real followers seem to exist.

Opinions like Hikmahanto’s are purely inflammatory and ought to not see the light of day.

See also The Bali Nine story – a bigger picture on this website

See also some later stories about prison guards in Indonesia being caught trafficking methamphetamine (ice, or cabu cabu as it is know in Indonesia) here, here and here. For sure none of these officers will see the inside of a prison, let alone be executed.

By Mark O’Brien, April 2015

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Emil Lin April 27, 2015 at 6:00 pm

First of all, I am not in favor of the death penalty -- for any reason or crime and prefer life in prison, etc. Indonesia has been a country with "flexible" laws due to corruption for a long time, though. While not perfect, Jokowi and his government have done a lot so far. This is a tough case b/c they clearly broke Indonesian law and while I may not like or agree with their sentencing, it is clear and I feel that if you visit another country, you have to both be aware of and respect their local laws. Some of it is just bad luck, getting caught for a crime at a time when Indonesia is undergoing reforms and cracking down on corruption. Even the new land permitting offices in Bali have changed. They now have cc TV and broad corruption will be harder now. IMO, you just can't expect to go to another country, break their laws, and then expect to be treated like you would in your own country.

admin April 29, 2015 at 12:42 pm

You miss the point. It is not about whether or not they broke the law, but, actually, about whether the Indonesian government respects the law, the law that says judges shall not be told what a sentence should be, the UN law that Indonesia signed up for that says the death penalty for drugs is illegal. It is mostly about the pointlessness of executing these boys, and that they are just political pawns.

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