The Pickering Post
Monday, 22nd October 2018

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Paul Zanetti

Paul Zanetti is a Walkley award winning syndicated cartoonist with over 30 years in the media. He blogs at

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I'm going to cop a blast for this, but I struggle to find much sympathy for the Bali Nine ringleaders.

First up, I'm opposed to the death penalty, but there are convincing arguments in extreme cases - for terrorists and child abusers, both who inflict horrible, unforgivable crimes against innocents.

Do drug dealers fit into this category? It's borderline for me.

Drugs are a scourge on our society. But both parties make the choice to buy and sell drugs. Please don't tell me that drug abusers don't have a choice. Unless they have a gun placed at their head when they first use a drug, they had a choice.

Drug abuse is not a victimless crime. The victims are the families. Those victims are a direct result of the decisions of the thrill-seeking junkie - and the profiteering dealer.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan knew exactly what they were doing - trading in pain, misery and death for profit.

They knew the cost, they knew the penalty if caught. The signs are everywhere when you enter Bali.

Sukumaran and Chan weren't naive novices, they were hardened career drug traffickers, seeking rich reward for high risk. They threw the dice, over and over, until one day the odds went against them.

They made choices, knowing the consequences.

The argument that they've rehabilitated in gaol, is a worthy one that should have some bearing on their fate, but who wouldn't change, while locked up, with the grim reaper knocking at the door?

Chances are if they hadn't been caught they would have continued to ply their nasty trade in misery and death.

Indonesia carries the death penalty for drug trafficking. That was known to the Bali Nine. It may not be our penalty in Australia, but they were in Bali when caught (yes, I know the AFP role).

So the outcome isn't surprising, their fate sealed.

A fate of their own making.


Sydney's sister city of San Fran... or is it brother city?




80,000 innocent children are murdered every year in Australia and no one cares a dam, the media does not whip up a frenzy to stop the slaughter, few speak up for them. Execute two convicted drug smugglers and there is an almighty outcry, murder 80,000 babies and you can hear the crickets chirping.

You're not copping a blast from me. To oppose the death penalty may give some busybodies a warm feeling of goodie-two-shoes holier-than-thou self righteousness. So be it. I get my warm feelings from elsewhere.

Good riddance IMHO.

My basic comment is that I am sorry that it took ten years. Lots of time to whip up public sympathny.
Chambers and Barlow were executed in Malaysia years ago in a very short time. The Australian Goverrnment did NOT make any type of appeal for them. No expensive legal representation, no appeals.

Let's put everything into perspective........Over 4000 people died in Nepal. They were not convicted drug smugglers. I feel sorry for the earthquake victims, not those two.

You have to be a bogan looking for a cheap and dirty holiday to go to Bali. It is renowned for drug peddling even though it is in an Islaic country.

makes you wonder how many young Australians these 2 have ruined!

As they say there is always another side of the story to be told.

By Candace Sutton for Daily Mail Australia

Published: 09:43 EST, 12 December 2014 | Updated: 11:41 EST, 12 December 2014

Bali Nine drug kingpin Andrew Chan, who is facing death by firing squad in Indonesia, masterminded another international heroin smuggling attempt out of Hong Kong - but the operation failed, resulting in three young Australians being jailed.

Daily Mail Australia can reveal for the first time that Chan enlisted Sydney teenager Rachel Diaz, 17, and Chris Vo, 15, both from western Sydney, as drug couriers to smuggle $1 million worth of heroin in condoms, which they were to swallow in Hong Kong and bring back to Australia.

The Hong Kong deal was to run at the same time as the Bali Nine operation - when Chan, Myuran Sumurakan and seven Australian mules were arrested, some with the drugs strapped to their bodies.

It can also be revealed that after his own arrest, Chan wrote a letter to Diaz in Hong Kong, ordering her to keep her mouth shut.

Chan and syndicate partner Sumurakan are on death row and were told this week by new Indonesian President Joko Widodo that he would not grant them pardons, despite their attempts to rehabilitate themselves behind bars. They could face death by firing squad in coming months.

Chan, who Indonesian police called 'The Godfather' when they arrested him, was a key organiser of the Australian end of the smuggling and distribution network, which was detailed in the Hong Kong court during Diaz's trial and described as a 'predatory crime syndicate'.

In just two weeks in April 2005, the syndicate was responsible for the arrest, and later the incarceration, of 17 young Australians for heroin trafficking in three countries.

Diaz, Vo and their minder Hutchinson Tran, 22, were arrested in a low budget Hong Kong hotel room on April 12, 2005.

They were found with 114 condoms filled with up to 1kg of heroin - but Diaz had had second thoughts about taking part in the operation, for which they were to be paid $200 for each 5cm-long condom they ingested.

Diaz's father Ferdinand failed to get his daughter released on bail and 12 months after her arrest, she was sentenced to 10 years and eight months. Vo, by then 16, received nine years, and Tran got 13 years and four months.

All have since been released, with Diaz serving out the majority of her sentence in a NSW women's prison after being transferred in February 2009 under the International Transfer of Prisoners' Act.

Five days after her arrest, Bali police arrested Chan, Sukumaran and their mules Renae Lawrence, Martin Stephens, Scott Rush, Si Yi Chen, Matthew Norman, Michael Czugaj and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen. The seven couriers recruited by Chan and Sukumaran have all received sentences ranging from 18 years to life.

Both the Bali Nine and the Hong Kong drug smuggling deals were connected with a third, lesser-known attempted heroin importation in which Chan and Sukumaran conspired with four young Brisbane people.

Daily Mail Australia can also reveal that in the lead up to the Bali Nine and the Hong Kong operations Chan and Sukumaran visited a young Korean-Australian who was later arrested and charged over the Hong Kong conspiracy following the arrest of Diaz, Vo and Tran.

A Korean-Australian and a co-conspirator were charged with plotting to import the packages of heroin that Diaz and 15-year-old Vo were meant to swallow.

Chan visited the Korean-Australian at least three times in different NSW prisons and once with Sukumaran in late 2004, just before the two made two 'practice' runs to Indonesia with several of the future Bali Nine couriers, including Renae Lawrence, and successfully returned to Australia with heroin strapped to their bodies.

Chan, who was a manager at a Sydney catering company, duped three of his staff - Lawrence, Norman and Stephens - into becoming mules, promising them thousands of dollars in return.

Following the arrests in Hong Kong and Bali within days of each other - and a series of other arrests in Sydney and Brisbane just days later - police said the Bali Nine had no connection with the Diaz case.

However, detectives have exclusively revealed that Chan was in contact with Diaz for months and all three trafficking deals were connected to a Sydney-based Chinese drug smuggling syndicate which had links to Myanmar.

Chan, who has found God in prison, was regularly visiting another convicted drug dealer in prison as he was conspiring to commit the Bali Nine deal.

Diaz and Vo were recruited to go to Hong Kong as drug mules, police say, on the promise of $6000 or $7000 for a single trip.

Diaz, a trainee hairdresser with churchgoing Filipino migrant parents, and Vo, a McDonald's worker and son of a single mother of Vietnamese origin, came from modest income families in western Sydney.

Neither had previously known connections with drug syndicates, nor had they met before they flew out from Sydney to Hong Kong in April 2005.

Diaz's parents, Ferdinand and Maria, believed she was having a sleep-over at a friend's house and then reported her missing when she failed to return.

On the day she and Vo were due home, April 13, police believe the Korean-Australian went to Sydney Airport to collect them, armed with three packets of laxatives.

Diaz and Vo were in a room at the Imperial Hotel, in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui backpacker district, with the 114 heroin-filled condoms, supplied by Hutchinson Tran, when police burst in.

Vo was prepared to swallow 30 packages but Diaz had apparently reconsidered, realising they could burst inside her stomach during the eight-hour flight back to Sydney.

Meanwhile, four Australians from Brisbane - aged 24, 22, 18, and 19, had been arrested in Brisbane and charged with conspiring with Chan and Sukumaran of conspiring to import heroin to Australia.

A fifth, Khanh Thanh Ly, 24, was arrested in Sydney. Ly subsequently pleaded guilty, but said he was only a 'run around' in the gang whose members included Sukumaran, and was never paid but did it for the 'glamour' and entries to parties and clubs.

The Bali Nine incident was linked to one of the world's biggest drug syndicates, Crescent Moon, which has smuggled large quantities of heroin from Myanmar (Burma) to Western countries.

Chan has admitted he saw the Bali Nine deal as a 'quick pay day'. He has never spoken about his involvement in the Hong Kong deal.

In an interview with ABC TV he pleaded for clemency, saying if his death sentence was commuted and he was released from prison, he wanted to help the community and become a minister of religion.

My thoughts also Paul. Our government need to tone down the rhetoric on this, what sort of message are our idiot politicians sending out to new wannabe drug dealers. We should respect another countries law, Barlow and Chambers were hanged, these two criminal dealers in death and misery took the gamble and lost.

Personally I am sick of the bullshit. I have lost friends to cancer. They did nothing wrong. They knew they were going to die and until right up to the last few days, they were uncertain of exactly when. These pair of peanuts did the crime knowing full well of the penalty. I see vigils are being held around various churches. I hope they see fit to also hold an annual vigil for those foolish people who become addicted to drugs and live a life of misery and some losing their lives.

I am with you on this one Paul. I am usually thought to be a kind hearted person but I cannot find any sympathy for these two gutter slime mongrels. If someone put on a blindfold and walked across a busy highway they would be considered to be very stupid, and dead. The only difference to these bastards is their stupidity was intended to cause misery, pain and hurt to Australians and make a heap of money while doing it. The end result will be the same. I just hope these scum are not made heroes out of all this, they don’t deserve it.

The one question not asked, nor answered WHO IS PAYING FOR THE FANCY LAWERS? I hope it is not LA and company.

I felt the same way when this first happened. However I have since come around. These Men may deserve a second chance. This Execution will not deter Australians from going over to Indonesia to get themselves into more trouble. So this won't be the last time we go thru this.

Fully agree:
"Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan knew exactly what they were doing - trading in pain, misery and death for profit."
not only THAT, but what about the other 12 Aussies, that are on Death Row world wide????
No one speaks a word. maybe not good publicity for votes?
get a grip!
Paedophiles, Drug-Smugglers, Rapists and Mutilators ought to have the same Faith.

For anyone who has eyes to see these two are nothing more than pumped drug dealing standover men. I seen Chan on the news one night still pumping iron in his cell because he likes what he does. The darkie is the same, big muscle bound shaved headed boofhead. As far as rehabilitation is concerned,who wouldn't put on the greatest play since Shakespeare when faced with being shot. And in the tradition of that great player they have made themselves appear to be something they are not. And just about everybody has fallen for it. I appeal to the Indonesians to stop mucking around.

Good article Paul. I'm against capital punishment also, but the fact is, in Indonesia the law is the law. Its printed in very big letters throughout the airport.

When are we going to hear the announced the date for their State Funerals and memorial services, and also wondering the date for the new Chan/Sukumaran memorial scholarship, to qualify you first must be an unsuccessful drug trafficker!

JulieB and TA should move on from this saga, the truth is that the Indonesian PM and deputy are too weak to act and are handcuffed to the dictates of their party base support and its Chairwoman.

Indonesia is doing us a favour in reality. They won't offend again. That Labor Polly who married a high profile Drug runner should hang her head in shame, proudly telling the world how marvellous he is now with a top Government job . The mind boggles how he got it after getting 9 years for importing death to our streets.

NO argument from me Larry. I worked for a lifetime with victims of drugs.

I agree with you Paul. The point of the matter is that none of us would like Indonesian politicians and others telling us what to do in our law system if we were dealing with Indonesians here who had broken our laws. As you point out these two men knew what the consequences would be if they were caught in no uncertain terms when they entered Indonesian territory. No one twisted their arms to go there or to become involved in this heartbreaking, family wrecking trade.