A Denpasar District Court official shows a rejection letter for reconsideration filed by Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan on death row, at the prison in Kerobokan, Denpasar, Bali on Feb. 2, 2015. (Antara Photo/Nyoman Budhiana)

Desi Anwar: Indonesia's Bigger Problem


FEBRUARY 24, 2015

I personally don't believe in capital punishment. For any reason. The taking away of human lives by other humans is hardly punishment. It is murder justified as a form of justice that serves only one purpose. To satisfy our base hunger and desire for revenge. 

Moreover, the act of carrying out capital punishment requires one hundred percent certainty and infallibility in judgment, which for any law and government, being the product of humans, is nigh impossible to achieve.  

Capital punishment also denies the perpetrator of the crime a chance at rehabilitation, forgiveness and redemption, which, even the Almighty, for those who believe in the existence of God, is apparently quite willing and capable of giving. 

What, after all is the point of punishment, if the perpetrator is not given an opportunity to learn from the lesson and be made a better person because of it? Better to make them carry out social work for the rest of their lives and pay back in service what they have robbed from society. 

Besides, as a form of dispensing justice, such as in the case of executing drug traffickers, there is no clear evidence that this is an effective deterrent against the lucrative drug business that depends for its continuity on the balance, as with any trade, between supply and demand. 

Even without foreign drug traffickers using Indonesia as a destination or distribution route, this country is already a drug-producing country in its own right, quite capable of feeding a business that is not only highly profitable but continues to grow. In this instance, I blame it more on the supply, without which demand and addiction cannot grow. 

Thus, if the government is serious in tackling the drug problem, rather than indulging in chest thumping policies to impress our foreign friends and creating new problems along the way, it's better to follow the money trail and see who are the drug producers profiting from the industry and the protectors that allow this industry to be able to grow unchecked to begin with.  

This, of course, is a far more difficult task to do, as we're not exactly a model for clean government whose dispenser of justice is never swayed by money or influence, whose lawmakers are the most upright of citizens and whose uniformed authorities exist to protect and serve the people as opposed to serve themselves and their deep pockets. 

A sad reality that makes me leery of any show of moral grandstanding performed by the government, which in effect is nothing more than a game of politics though with real human lives at stake. A vulgar and unconvincing attempt to hide a grosser truth. 

This country has a drug problem, no doubt about that and something should be done about it. But a much bigger and more pervasive problem is the amount of corruption that has long afflicted and impoverished the entire nation and making a mockery of our democracy and the honest people that make up the majority of the population. 

Corruption eradication is high on the agenda of what the voters demand the government to do, along with improving the economy, health, education and poverty alleviation. I personally cannot remember where executing jailed drug mules comes on the list of campaign promises. 

Instead, while we still have citizens barely living on $2 a day, we have officers, generals, supposedly servants of the public, harboring the equivalent of billions of dollars in their bank accounts, claiming this to be from legitimate earnings and honest work while expecting the public to believe them.

As they wait for their final execution, every day and every moment leading towards that fateful and yet uncertain date, the authorities are already in effect carrying out slow torture on these prisoners and their families. I find this morally disturbing.

And yet, I cannot say other people share my sentiment, many of whom are glad to be rid of bad rubbish. Perhaps we've seen too many people get away with their crimes, and justice miscarried, that any action that actually dispenses punishment to the guilty, in whatever fashion, merits a loud applause.

Though it's a bit like cheering the shooting of a couple of burglars while forgetting that the entire house is already run by thieves.

It's a bit like cheering the shooting of a couple of burglars while forgetting that the entire house is already run by thieves.

Desi Anwar is a senior anchor at Metro TV. She can be reached at desianwar.com or dailyavocado.net.