Australia suggests last minute prisoner swap to save two convicted drug smugglers

File photograph of two Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan (L) and Myuran Sukumaran (R) the ringleaders of the "Bali Nine" drug ring, are seen in a holding cell while awaiting court trial in Denpasar, on Bali island.

Australia on Thursday (March 5) suggested a prisoner swap with Indonesia in an 11th hour bid to save two drug smugglers facing execution, while voicing “deep concern” about Jakarta’s international reputation if they are killed.

In a last-ditch effort to save them, Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, proposed a prisoner swap for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug trafficking gang.

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Photo: AFP

They could be shot within days after being moved on Wednesday (March 4) to the Indonesian island where they are due to face a firing squad.

Bishop said she had spoken to her counterpart Retno Marsudi in what was reportedly “a very tense phone call”.

“I’ve spoken to her on a number of occasions about this, and I wanted to explore any other avenues or opportunities to save the lives of these two young men who have been so remarkably rehabilitated,” Bishop told ABC radio.

“She undertook to pass on my comments to the president.

“I didn’t go into any specific detail but I did note there were Australian prisoners in Jakarta and there were Indonesian prisoners in Australia and that we should explore some opportunity, a prison swap, a transfer, whether that could be done under Indonesian law.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that any deal could involve three Indonesians in prison in Australia over their role in an infamous 1998 drug bust.

They were named as Kristito Mandagi, Saud Siregar and Ismunandar, the captain, chief officer and engineer respectively of a boat carrying 390 kilograms (860 pounds) of heroin that was seized near Port Macquarie, some 400 km north of Sydney.

Global implications 

Bishop’s comments followed an impromptu bipartisan candlelight vigil for the pair outside the country’s parliament in Canberra early Thursday, also attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Abbott, who on Wednesday expressed revulsion at the looming deaths, said he had requested a final telephone call with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to again push for the men to be spared.

“I can’t guarantee that request will be met,” he said.

“We respect Indonesia and we honour the friendship that we have with Indonesia, but we stand up for our values and we stand up for our citizens, and these are Australian citizens in extremis.”

Canberra has made more than 20 representations to Indonesian officials since January regarding the pair but Widodo has been unswayed, insisting Indonesia was facing an “emergency” due to rising narcotics use and a tough line must be taken.

Chan and Sukumaran, sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, recently lost their appeals for presidential clemency, typically the last chance to avoid the firing squad.

They are among several drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria, who have lost their clemency requests and are expected to be put to death at the same time soon.

Along with Australia, Brazil and France have also ramped up pressure on Jakarta, with Paris summoning Indonesia’s envoy and the Brazilian president refusing to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador. - Reuters

Related storyFive things about Indonesia's infamous execution island 

Nivea slammed for ad about S'porean woman with dark armpits

Netizens have been kicking up a stink over body care brand Nivea's latest advertisement for its deodorant.

The three-minute long clip posted on its Facebook account shows a Singaporean woman being shunned for having dark armpits.




The ad stars YouTube personality Maimunah Bagharib, of the popular duo MunahHirzi. 

While some have found the clip humorous, others have criticised it for promoting insecurities about women's bodies.



Women's rights group Aware has also weighed in on the subject.





What do you think about the video? Tell us on Facebook.

In-form Walker continues to lead the Kranji training ranks

Mark Walker

It is early days but trainer Mark Walker has opened up a decent lead in the trainers' premiership and, of the top 15 last year, those that are struggling are John O'Hara, who is yet to get on the board, and Sam Chua, who finally got a dead-heat winner last Sunday but managed to get the full prize in the stewards' room.

With 21 winners, Walker is seven clear of nine-time champion Laurie Laxon.

Leslie Khoo, Stephen Gray and Brian Dean have had bright starts to the year, auguring well for a very competitive season among the training ranks.

Cliff Brown continues to win a significant percentage of the 1,400m races and has an uncanny knack of winning the last race on the programme.

While he has a star in Zac Spirit, it is known he has a high opinion of Absolutely, who resumed with a strong win in the Three Rings Trophy and will be brought along very patiently with longer races in mind.

The training effort of the month had to go to Letitia Dragon, who has turned the 1,100m Polytrack Class 5 horse Pint Sized Prince into a successful Class 4 turf performer over 1,400m.

Having his fourth trainer somehow or other, Letitia worked out the horse, wanted longer and to be ridden more patiently, with devastating effect.

After his win last Sunday, wags were suggesting someone might like to check his brands.

Until the last weekend, the jockey's premiership was looking decidedly unbalanced with the expatriate riders Nunes, Rodd, Brown, Munro and Newitt accounting for over 50 per cent of winning rides but the racing gods are a persnickety lot and gave the leading riders a hard time in the first March meeting.

None more so than runaway table leader Nunes, who rode no winners but six seconds, was reprimanded for a potentially frivolous protest and has to start a suspension next week.

All on the same day that Joao Moreira rode six winners in Hong Kong.

As they say, that's racing.

His top five picks for sale at Red Cross International Bazaar

1. Black studded Christian Louboutin shoes TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

This is my first pair of Christian Louboutin shoes that I bought four years ago for $1,500. At that time, I was just starting to make my own money, so $1,500 was a lot of money for me. I started with one pair and now I have about 200 pairs. So this really means a lot to me. I am going to sell it at $800 at the bazaar.

2. 30 new Brian Lichtenberg autographed caps TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

I got to know (US fashion designer) Brian Lichtenberg about a year ago, and he gave me a few outfits to wear to different events. We established a friendship and I bought the caps from him, but got him to autograph them specially for the Red Cross event. Each cap will be going for $150.

3. Rare Hermes crocodile bracelet TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

This is a rare Hermes crocodile bracelet and it retails for around $3,500. Usually, people will sell it for a much higher price online and make a bigger profit out of it. I'm selling it for $2,000.

4. New suede fringed Christian Louboutin heels TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

This was donated by my good friend Phoebe Leong, who owns multi-label boutique TriBeCa in Singapore. I think it's cool how the people around me are also donating to @fashionfund_ for a good cause. It retails for about $1,700 and I will sell it for $1,300.

5. New Celine two-tone tote bag TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

This was a birthday present from a few years ago. I thought I would donate it since I haven't used it at all. I think it retails for about $3,400, but I plan to sell it for $2,000.

Barricades for S'pore River landmarks

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Ex-world No. 1 golfer Tseng hopes 'positive thinking' will arrest slump

"Now, I don’t get stressed when I hit bad shots, because everybody is going to hit bad shots now and then." - Tseng Ya-ni (far left), enjoying herself at yesterday’s junior golf clinic

Don’t be surprised if you catch former women’s world No. 1 golfer Tseng Ya-ni muttering to herself out on Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong Course this week.

The 26-year-old Taiwanese hasn’t lost her mind before the start of the HSBC Women’s Champions today.

In fact, her “self talk” is keeping her from succumbing to pressure, which, she said, caused her spectacular fall from the pinnacle of the women’s game in the last two years.

At the sidelines of a golf clinic with China’s Jing Yan yesterday, Tseng explained: “Self-talk is really important — I try to do that on the course as much as I can.

“It is very easy to let bad things go to your mind, so I always try to talk about positive things to myself.”

Read the full report in our print edition on March 5.

Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at

More relaxed at No. 2, but Park wants top ranking

Being No. 2 in the world is "a lot more relaxing" than topping the world rankings, according to South Korean golfer Park Inbee.

The 26-year-old would know.

She was the world's top woman golfer from April 2013 to June last year, and from October last year till early last month, before ceding her position to New Zealand teen sensation Lydia Ko.

Although the pressure and expectations are lesser as the world No. 2, Park (below) says she prefers to have her throne back, thank you very much.

Read the full report in our print edition on March 5. Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at

Saudi prince's apartment on sale for $66 million

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LeBron bounces back in style

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