Monday, November 07, 2005

A modern hero?

Nguyen Tuong Van is a Thai born Australian who was caught smuggling heroin into Singapore and is now awaiting execution in Changi prison.

The campaign to save his life has taken some odd paths. Yesterday there was a joint Buddhist and Catholic service for him in Melbourne's Catholic Cathedral. The Age journalist at this service reported that,

After a chanting of the mantra for the preservation of life by monks of Melbourne's Quang Minh Temple, Father Hansen compared Nguyen to Roman Catholic martyr Sir Thomas More as he awaited execution for alleged treason in 1535 ...

What a comparison! Sir Thomas More acted out of principle in refusing to recognise King Henry VIII as the supreme head of the English church. Nguyen tried to make money by engaging in a criminal activity which kills and degrades thousands of vulnerable people.

And I wonder what Father Hansen meant when he declared from the pulpit that,

We, the people who are here today in this great cathedral, we are the people of Van's land.

For goodness' sake! Van committed an act of considerable evil. It is reasonable to argue that the death penalty is too severe a punishment. But his case is hardly deserving of this kind of grand language.

Nor is Father Hansen the only culprit in lionising Van. Julia Irwin, the Federal Member for Fowler said today of Van,

You will live in our hearts forever.
No, Julia Irwin. Even if you disagree with the death penalty, you should not speak about heroin smugglers like this. It is mentally and morally unsound.

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