Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cool heads needed now as Bali Nine Duo execution deadline nears

By Ross Taylor

Like most Australians I feel ill as I contemplate the fait of the two Bali Nine Duo.

A friend of mine summed up as a 'barbaric nation' his feelings towards Indonesia when we spoke yesterday.

Yet ironically it was only back in the early eighties that we, right here in Australia, embraced capital punishment. 

Since our federation it took our nation 85 years to finally remove institutionalized killing from our statute books.

Indonesia, as a democracy is 17 years old. They have much to learn; much to achieve.

Today in Indonesia, many young people - and older people for that matter - still just throw rubbish on the ground cluttering-up tourists trails and sites. Appalling. Why? Simply ignorance.

Today in Indonesia too many young people still smoke. Cancer is killing over 400,000 people a year in Indonesia. 

The trouble is there has been no long-term educational campaign to change the public's perception and attitude of how bad smoking really is. 

Just like how bad littering is; and the death penalty is.

The reality is, as we know in Australia, it takes years - several generations in fact - to change public attitudes.

Indonesia has, for some years been quietly having a national conversation about the death penalty notwithstanding widespread public support for capital punishment - just like Australia, back in the seventies and eighties.

Capital punishment WILL eventually be removed from the laws of Indonesia; just like smoking will become 'a bad thing to be doing' and just as rubbishing one's own county will one day be 'unacceptable. 

It just takes time.

It is agonizing to stand by and watch this terrible event approach whereby two young Australians will be executed.

But as Australians we need to acknowledge we also have once travelled this path. We did!!

As Australians we need to give our neighbour the support it needs to evolve into a modern and outward looking nation of over 250 million people. 

They can learn from our experiences as a young nation.

Anger, hatred and protests in Australia are just as bad as the protests against Australia now occurring in Indonesia.

We need 'cool heads' and mutual understanding right now in the face of very difficult times. However hard that may seem to do.

Ross B Taylor AM is President of the Indonesia Institute.

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