Monday, May 04, 2015

The Bali Nine: a history of Crime

A lot of people seem to have forgotten that Chan and Sukumuran were career drug smugglers. The following article from the Daily Mail Australia last December outlines some of the bastardry that these grubs got up to.

I'm sure that there were other 'deals' that have been disregarded or not discovered but no one should underestimate the damage they have done to Australian society through their get rich quick schemes.

They knew exactly what they were doing and rightly paid the price  set down by the Indonesian Government. Hopefully it will deter other like-minded idiots. As for their repentance and rehabilitation - give me a break!

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 Sukumuran 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, 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 Long'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 entrees 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.


Leftist government corruption exposed in NT

The southern states and the federal government could learn a lot from the manner in which the Northern Territory is starting to drain the swamp of Labor crocodiles.

Last Sunday NT Labor ­Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie resigned after police plans to establish a special unit to ­investigate her for possible breaches of criminal law relating to an underhand property deal were revealed.

The scam was a simple plan.

On its last day in power the former NT Labor government gave Unions NT a 10-year, rent-free lease to a $3 million Darwin property for $442 (GST included) despite objections from the Lands Department, which wanted the site to be put to tender.

Known locally as Stella Maris, the name of the former mission to seamen which existed there prior to 2007, the scandal has not only sunk Lawrie, it has brought into disrepute the outgoing president of the NT Bar Association, Alistair Wyvill, the former president of NT Labor, and ALP Senate candidate Matthew Gardiner (who was reportedly involved in the Syrian conflict), another former president of Labor NT Cathy Spurr, former lands minister Gerry McCarthy and a raft of Labor MPs and advisers and strategists.

The particularly smelly deal was investigated by Commissioner John Lawler, former CEO of the Australian Crime Commission, and a former federal police officer.

He was scathing in his findings, noting inter alia, that the Lands Department “believed there was an expectation to make the lease offer before the pre-election government caretaker period commenced on 6 August, 2012, and, given the ­official Cabinet direction, acted with undue haste in processing Unions NT’s flawed community land grant application.

“This led to the department breaching its own processes for dealing with community land grants,” he said in his findings.

“The grant application the department processed was ­inaccurate, three years out of date and did not document Unions NT’s true intentions for the site.”

He then went through each minister, finding McCarthy did not act with accountability, ­responsibility or with proper consideration of those likely to be affected by his decision.

Lawrie, he said, acted with bias towards Unions NT “over many years”.

Indeed, he said it was ­"unlikely the submission would have gone to that Cabinet meeting or that the letter of offer would have been made on 3 August, 2012, without minister Lawrie’s intervention”.

Nor did he miss Unions NT, which he said submitted an ­application to McCarthy and Lawrie which “did not have a proper factual basis, was misleading and exaggerated” and also misrepresented the relationship between the Seafarer’s Union and the Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), which had run the site between 1979 and 2003.

Instead of copping it, Lawrie protested to the NT Supreme Court that she had been ­denied fair process by Commissioner Lawler.

Lawrie lost that one, too, with Justice Stephen Southwood rejecting that view in the strongest terms.

In his findings he accepted that “Lawrie and her lawyers engaged in a deceptive strategy to ignore, disengage and discredit” the Lawler inquiry.

He found Lawrie approved the sending of a letter to Commissioner Lawler containing material that was “deliberately and knowingly false”.

The former president of the Law Council of Australia dismissed Lawrie’s claims. The former journalist and former media union officer was found, with her lawyers, to have ­engaged in a “conscious and deliberate strategy” to make “false” and “completely baseless allegations” against Commissioner Lawler to discredit the “ugly” report that was to be the end result of his inquiry.

But it was the land deal at the heart of the Stella Maris case that revealed the nature of NT Labor — a scheme with benefits for the trade union movement with similarities to the Centenary House “rent rort” that Labor ran in Canberra for more than decade, and the relocation by the Gillard government of the Commonwealth Parliament’s Sydney offices, again to the benefit of the union movement, which should ring bells for readers.

Centenary House, owned by John Curtin House Ltd, was the subject of two royal commissions before being sold for around $35 million in 2005.

The first commission, set up by Labor prime minister Paul Keating, found the rents to government departments, including the Audit Office, were not excessive. The second, set up by Liberal prime minister John Howard, found the original ­inquiry was inadequate.

It found the rent was excessive and should not have been entered into by a prudent ­government.

Commissioner David Hunt, QC, said the lease was $42 million above market rates and that, while there was “no undue influence, unfair pressure or unfair tactics” over the rent deal, the terms of lease to the Audit Office were “exceptionally beneficial” to the ALP, not “reasonable or prudent”, and out of line with the market.

He also criticised the Audit Office and Department of ­Finance for their failure to investigate the Centenary House lease before it was signed.

In August, 2011, Gillard cut the ribbon at the opening of 1 Bligh Street, one of the Sydney’s most expensive office towers, and moved the Commonwealth offices into the building, part-owned by the construction union’s super fund, Cbus.

Real estate experts said the move would at least double the rent paid by the taxpayers to about $6 million a year.

There was nothing wrong with the government’s former Phillip St accommodation but neither Labor nor the union movement had a cut of the rent.


ABC’s Labor-sympathizing interviewers come a cropper

In a bizarre form of tag-team interrogation, four senior ABC interviewers attempted to trap Environment Minister Greg Hunt on the government’s emission reduction fund (ERF) in a series of interviews over five days.

Whether it was coincidence or through some sort of group-think within the political secretariat of the nation’s monolithic taxpayer-funded broadcaster, the effort lent credibility to the view that the ABC is the ALP’s propaganda arm. In terms of achieving a “gotcha” moment, it failed on every count.

Melbourne ABC 774’s Rafael Epstein was the first to bat just over a week ago, on April 23.This is how he began: “Just trying to make it understandable for both myself and everyone else, am I right in saying that you’ve purchased a fifth of the emissions you need to purchase using a quarter of your money? Is that roughly right?

Hunt’s response was simple: “No, it’s completely false.”

And so it went.

The facts about the ERF, Hunt said, were simple. The Abbott government had abolished the carbon tax and electricity prices dropped.

The government then passed the ERF and the Labor Party and many of their fellow critics insisted that there would be no demand under the fund. The fund is an incentive based payment through an auction process — a market-based mechanism — to find the cheapest emissions reduction project in the country; directly cleaning things up.

The first auction was conducted by the Clean Energy Regulator which announced that 47 million tonnes of emissions reductions projects had been awarded.

That’s four times the total volume of emissions reduction which occurred under the entire period of Labor’s failed carbon tax.

The price per tonne was $13.95, or less than one-ninetieth, or about 1.1 per cent of the average price of emissions reductions of $1,300 under the carbon tax.

Hunt said Epstein had begun his interview with points from the Labor Party’s presentation, which Epstein passionately denied.

He then pointed out that Epstein’s assumptions generally were wrong.

Next to engage the minister was the 7.30 Report’s Leigh Sales that evening. She should have done more homework.

“Minister,” she began, “with this first auction today you’ve spent about 25 per cent of your budget to reach about 15 per cent of your goal. Doesn’t that demonstrate that your policy’s not going to be enough to meet Australia’s emission reduction targets?

Hunt’s whacked that claim out of the ground, saying: “No, with respect, the presumptions in your question are quite wrong.”

He then gave the figures he had smashed Epstein with earlier in the day.

Sales was on the backfoot and spluttering “but…” before she managed to make another claim: “Minister, if you can address my point, at $13.95 per tonne, the amount set today, given that you have $2.55 billion to spend, you will fall short of Australia’s targets by about 57 million tonnes.”

Hunt responded: “No, that’s false.” Not going to let go, as wrong as she was, Sales came back with: “Minister, with this - with this policy — let’s talk about the current policy. Let’s talk about the current policy. With this policy, taxpayers are paying polluters not to pollute.” She was wrong again, as Hunt replied: “Well that’s false.” Undeterred, Sales tried a different tack, asking the minister to submit the figures to an independent audit so that “we can see firstly if the promised abatement happens, and secondly, if it’s value for money?”

Unfortunately, as Hunt pointed out, such an audit has already been conducted. Deloitte signed off on the first round of audit.

Floundering, Sales protested: Is it going to keep happening? Because we need to know if people are delivering what they’re promising that they’re going to be delivering for this money. The answer, Hunt said, is of course. The independent probity audit had been present throughout the whole process at his request.

Even the Labor-aligned Climate Institute has admitted the process has produced fine examples of emissions reduction but that is not the point for the ABC’s political warriors who failed to pursue Labor when it launched its disastrous policies of pink batts, green loans, cash for clunkers and the carbon tax experiment which failed to reduce emissions, but cost Australians $15 billion.

Sales failed, she needed constant correction and her analysis was fundamentally wrong. Not that she was alone in that, as the next of the ABC’s interrogators, Radio National’s Ellen Fanning, found on April 24 and ABC’s 702 presenter Linda Mottram discovered just a few days ago on April 28.

Of the four presenters, Mottram was most persistent in parroting Labor lines, as Hunt noted in his pithy replies, over her protestations.  She began with the proposition that “the other big issue for you in the past week or so has been the first option paying firms not to pollute…”

Not a good place to start at all, according to Hunt,who said: “No that’s the ALP’s language and of course that is deeply politically loaded and…”

He was interrupted by Mottram who asked: “But it’s true isn’t it?”

And again, Hunt was able to inform yet another ABC star: “No it’s false.”

In between interruptions from Mottram, Hunt managed to state the obvious: “The ABC uses… ALP’s language… they don’t use unloaded… language.” It’s the ALP’s language that the ABC uses all the time, Hunt said, the national broadcaster never uses the language of the conservatives.

As for the substance of the interview, Hunt said Mottram “couldn’t be more wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong.”

As one would expect of an organisation which follows an ABC script.


Policy gulf widens between Bill Shorten and deputy Tanya Plibersek

Despite facing criticism from her party colleagues this week, Ms Plibersek stood by her position that all Labor MPs should be ­compelled to vote for same-sex marriage and said she would fight for this to be enshrined in the party’s platform at the national conference in July. “I respect their view (but) I have a different view,” Ms Plibersek said. “I think this is a natural next step for us. I don’t agree that discrimination against one group in our community, when it comes to their legal status and rights, is ­acceptable. And I’ll make that case at conference.”

Ms Plibersek described her ­relationship with the Opposition Leader as “very good” but made no apology for engaging in robust ­internal debate on policy and structural reform. She supports members having a vote in upper-house preselections and advocated local party members voting for national conference delegates, in contrast to Mr Shorten’s position.

She also disagreed with Mr Shorten on rewriting the party’s 1921 socialist objective, saying it should not be changed. Although Ms Plibersek supports the party’s union link, she added that it was time members had a bigger say. “Genuine involvement of union rank-and-file members is important, making sure that it is not just leaders of unions deciding en bloc about issues,” she said.

As Labor activists push for a more “pro-Palestinian” policy and criticism of Israel percolates through local branches, Ms Plibersek said she would steer a middle course on Middle East policy. “I support a secure Israel with internationally recognised borders and a secure state of Palestine that has economic viability and ­security as well,” she said. “How we achieve that is the thing that is being debated in the Labor Party right now, not whether we support a two-state solution.”

On the government’s foreign policy, Ms Plibersek offered support for its handling of the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, ­national-security laws and the Iraq commitment. But she lashed out at cuts to the aid budget, attacked the lack of leadership on climate change and said the confusion over the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was “perplexing”. She affirmed Labor’s preference for multilateral approaches to foreign policy, especially the UN, and criticised Ms Bishop for not capitalising on Australia’s temporary membership of the ­Security Council.

“I am not sure that she made the most of it,” Ms Plibersek said.

Asked if she would like to ­become Labor leader one day, Ms Plibersek dismissed the suggestion. “My focus is on us as a group being able to return to government and that is my only focus.”


Australia does new universities well

Australia has more world-class universities opened in the past 50 years ago than any other nation, with 16 in the top 100 worldwide and seven in the top 50, according to a survey released today.

The University of Technology, Sydney, tops the list of Australian universities, sitting in 21st spot ­internationally, according to the Times Higher Education Top 100 Under 50 2015 rankings.

The ranking compares universities established in or after 1965. UTS, which jumped 26 places from 47th in the rankings last year, leapfrogged the universities of Newcastle and Wollongong and the Queensland University of Technology to claim top spot.

“The ranking shows something really positive, which is that Australia has the Group of Eight up there holding their own in the traditional rankings, but it also has strength and depth further down,” said Times Higher Educa­tion’s rankings editor Phil Baty.

“That is different to the UK and the US, which have the very best universities in the world, but they also have a very long tail of very poor ones. That’s not the case in Australia.”

UTS vice-chancellor Attila Brungs said the improvement in its ranking was “a result of work we started doing around research and international partnerships in 2009. We are bearing the fruits of efforts planted quite a few years ago.”

Australia’s performance has raised questions about the govern­ment’s higher-education reform agenda — which is currently on ice after being knocked back twice in the Senate.

Mr Baty said the apparent strength of the sector called into question elements of the government’s reforms, including tuition-fee deregulation.

“Deregulated fees would put a bigger gap ­between the very best and the rest,” he said.

Linda Kristjanson, the vice-chancellor of Swinburne University, which entered the top 100 for the first time at 65, said the rankings confirmed the strength of the Australian sector. “It should cause us to continue to critically evaluate proposed changes which would radically alter the policy and funding settings on which this success has been built,” Professor Kristjanson said.


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