Saturday, May 28, 2005

Schapelle Corby Case - Hell Paved with Good Intentions

Unless the sentence is already a maximum or death, the perils involved in a defence appeal are that the other side, the prosecution, can also lodge an appeal for the sentence to be increased. In fact, the Indonesian Attorney-General has just supported the prosecutor’s intention to appeal for a stiffer sentence for Schapelle Corby.

This is why I have been urging Aussies not to make uncouth comments or silly threats against the Indonesians, nor to insult their President or justice system including the judges or prosecutors. Corby’s so-called backer Ron Bakir had to retract with full apology a totally unacceptable, unnecessary and unsubstantiated insult to the Indonesian prosecutor, and while the latter might have diplomatically accepted the apology, grave ill will has already been created.

The threats with regards to the tsunami aid and economic boycott of Bali, etc are adding insults to an already festering Indonesian injury caused by Corby’s supporters. I cannot over repeat the tragedy of the whole affair - Corby has been ill served by her well wishers and some people who seek to exploit her unfortunate situation.

Regarding the former group (of well wishers), OK, at least one can understand their motives, silly as these might/may have been, but they must cease and desist before even greater harm are done. As Cicero mentioned, ’Hell is paved with good intentions.’

As for the latter group, well, I am immediately reminded of either vultures or blood sucking vampires, drawn by the smell of Corby’s despair.

In any effort to reach a multi party solution, the Indonesians make much ado about a verb called ‘memusyawarahkan’ which means ‘discuss or deliberate over’. Thus, the various parties involved shall politely, amicably and, preferably, quietly discuss the proposed solution. They aren’t favourably disposed towards confrontational arguments or public quarrels. They like to hold quiet behind-doors deliberations over sensitive issue, so that no one loses face and all merge in a win-win outcome.

The Corby case is one typical such example - how to quietly transfer her to Australia without being seen to be weak or deferential to a Western nation, could have been dealt diplomatically between the governments without recourse to exchanges via the media.

Indonesians are a very proud and sensitive people with a high sense of protocol. They don’t like uncouth people, especially foreigners, talking down on them or threatening them, either directly or indirectly. Reminding them of how much they owe Australia for the tsunami and any other aid insults and hurts them deeply.

Indonesians aren’t exactly forgetful of both the Australian people and government’s recent generosities. I do not have any doubt that the prosecutor’s decision not to demand for the death penalty in the first place had been a silent manifestation of this gratitude.

I was also fairly confident (note the ‘past tense’) that after Corby has been found guilty, given a slight slap on her wrist, she would be packed home after a brief interval of decency. But my belief went out of the window when I witnessed the unmitigated emotion-raking media frenzy and the rednecked behaviour of some Australians.

Another bad move has been the Aussie government actions, admittedly as a result of media pressure, of spelling out its intentions towards Corby, eg. prisoner exchange scheme, via the media. It's not helping their position on this matter with the Indonesian officials who also have their own constituencies to mollify.

Quite frankly, after that inexcusable slander of the prosecutor, judges, custom officers, and the other insults, threats, badmouthings, and conducting foreign policies over the media, I wonder indeed for Corby’s future.

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