In the news: In Indonesia on Sunday 18 January six prisoners found guilty of trading drugs were executed by a firing squad. One of them was Ang Kiem Soei, the first Dutch person to be executed in Indonesia since independence.
Commentary by Widya Putra, an MSc student of Food Quality Management from Indonesia.
‘At secondary school we received stern warnings about the dangers of drugs. In 2011, 15,000 Indonesians died as a result of drug abuse, most of them young people. I know as well that it is not difficult to get hold of drugs, even if you are under 18. The government is extra alert to drug abuse because it hampers the country’s development. Many of my acquaintances support that vision and they see the death sentence as something that is just part of our legal system. Indonesia is still a developing country, goes the reasoning, so it has to crack down on its social problems. I do think the death sentence is an effective deterrent for the drugs trade. Foreigners coming to Indonesia should be aware of the drugs policy. If they start trading, apparently they are willing to take the risk. But personally I am against the death sentence because of my religious beliefs. In Buddhism you are never allowed to kill someone. Even if someone has done something terribly wrong we prefer to forgive them so that they get the chance to become a better person. Indonesia has a special relationship with the Netherlands because of our shared history. Relations have steadily improved in recent years. Before the elections last year a group of Dutch ministers and businessmen came on a visit to explore the possibilities for collaboration and investments. It said on the news that our governments were now standing together on an equal footing. I can’t say whether the execution of a Dutch person will change that. Of course it is not a good sign that the Dutch ambassador has been called back.’