30 December 2005


Lex Lasry, QC, and Barrister Julian McMahon worked pro bono on behalf of convicted Australian drug smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van for two years, but the last month before Van’s hanging in Singapore was probably the toughest. They were shuttling between Singapore and Australia for last-ditch clemency appeal efforts. They lobbied their government and made passionate appeals to the Singaporean authorities to spare their client’s life only to see the young man, who by all accounts had transformed from a smart-alec kid to a loving mature man, hanged on December 2.

Perhaps more than intellectual and physical exhaustion, these two gentlemen of the Australian Bar underwent the kind of emotional fatigue that will take years to heal. Yet, they would go through it all over again, according to Mr. Lasry. That’s because it was not only their late client who had been transformed by this experience but also both Messrs. Lasry and McMahon.

The FAIRBANK REPORT is delighted to name Lex Lasry, QC and Barrister Julian McMahon our “Humanitarians of the Year for Calendar Year 2005.”

Jonathan Fairbank
Editor-in-Chief, The FAIRBANK REPORT

Los Angeles, CA

29 December 2005

He's Baack: One-Bill Gil to Reintroduce Illegal Alien Driver's License Bill

The FAIRBANK REPORT has learned that anti-American Communist legislator Gil Cedillo will reintroduce for the eighth time his bill to give California driver's license to illegal aliens. Cedillo is a long-time comrade in the reconquista movement, which aim is to return California and the Southwest to Mexican sovereignty. The reconquistadores seem to conveniently forget that without American law and governance, California and the Southwest would be a bigger and "badder" version of Tijuana.

It is inevitable, given the current immigration and demographic trends, that California will return to Mexican rule one day. I was hoping that the hand-over would not occur until 2025 when I plan to leave California.

William Barker-Finch
Free-lance writer
Claremont, CA

27 December 2005

Love in the Time of Deportation



Ten-year US Treasury yields have fallen below those for the two-year papers. This "inverted" yield curve normally portends an economic recession ahead. According to a recent study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, all of the last 30 recessions were preceded by inverted yield curves. Thus, we are issuing a Recession Alert.

23 December 2005



Revenge of the Nerds

It is reported today that China is recruiting top IT graduates from the United States, presumably mainly Asian- and/or Chinese-Americans because of perceived shared culture, in order to assist the Chinese government to monitor the Internet. It is ironic that China is using IT and IT professionals to control free expression since the basis of this industry is premised on the free and unfettered exchange of ideas.

We will just have to wait and see if any nerds take up the offer. Perhaps, especially if they throw in a couple of hot chicks.

Diori Yu, Guest Editor.

22 December 2005

Significant Events of 2005: Hurricane Katrina Wipes Out an Entire American City

It's difficult to fathom that in these days of hyper technology, an entire American city can be wiped out and rendered uninhabitable. For all of our technology, we are still whimps when it comes to Mother Nature's wrath and fury.

The Katrina disaster also underscores the incompetence of civilian government to handle large-scale emergencies. It was only after the arrival of the National Guard that some semblance of order and organization was restored to New Orleans.

The silver lining in this disaster: We got a great quote from General Honore when he barked at the lemming reporters in their Brooks Brothers suites, "Don't get stuck on stupid." Great line, General!

21 December 2005

Made in China: a Yugo or a Nascent Honda?

The China-based Geely (pronounced "Jee Lee") Motor Company is set to debut several models in the United States in 2008. The sedan (white car above) is estimated to cost about $10,000. Not bad, huh?

Don't Celebrate Christmas, Celebrate Nativity Instead!

Crass commercialism and decadent consumption have destroyed Christmas, particularly in the West. What do excessive eating and drinking, ostentatious gift-giving and general debauchery have to do with the birth of Christ? Christmas has been paganized. It has returned to its pagan origin.

During the time of The Nativity, let us reflect on and commemorate the birth of Christ. It's that simple.

20 December 2005



Justice--Singapore Style

Homicidal negligence: 3 months in jail or US$150 in fine.

Drug mule with 396 grams of heroine: Death by hanging.

Go figure!

J. Fairbank, Editor-in-Chief.

Agence France Presse
December 16, 2005

A SINGAPORE woman has been charged with negligence for ordering her Indonesian maid out of a window from where she fell to her death, a court document and a press report said Friday, Dec 16.

Ngu Mei Mei, 37, is charged with ordering the maid, Yanti, to climb with laundry from a study room window to hang out the laundry, a court document said.

It said the roof "was not designed for such ordinary human access". The incident allegedly happened on December 20, 2003.

The Straits Times reported that Yanti fell to her death but the charge sheet says only that Ngu "did an act so negligently as to endanger human life."

She faces three months in jail, a S$250 (US$150) or both.

New York-based Human Rights Watch in a report last week said maids in Singapore suffered serious abuses including sexual violence, food deprivation and home lock-ups.

The government called the report "a gross exaggeration" and defended existing legislation protecting foreign domestic workers.

At least 147 maids have died from workplace accidents or suicides since 1999, mostly by jumping or falling from high-rise residential apartments, Human Rights Watch said.

Singapore's Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen told BBC Radio that there were about 18 cases of maids falling to their deaths this year. According to a government transcript of the interview, Ng said the government is trying to tackle the issue and the number of deaths has dropped.
Half the deaths are suicides, he said.

About 150,000 women work as maids in Singapore, most of them from impoverished villages in the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The Nguyen Tuong Van Aftermath: Singapore's Image Tarnished?

By Diori Yu

Diori Yu is a free-lance writer based in Southern California.

The images above, which are culled from Australian sources, suggest that Singapore's image in Australia will--at least in the short term--be adversely affected by the hanging of Australian drug smuggler Nguyen Van.

Singapore might take comfort in the results of the poll published just before Van's execution that more than half of the Australian public said the young Melbornian deserved to die.

Such solace might be misleading and indeed fleeting. Polls often result in different findings depending on how questions are phrased. And moreover, these are the results of only one poll. Even assuming the accuracy of this poll, the results, then, denote that about half of Australians opposed the Singaporean government's decision. And this is the indignant half who are more likely to take proactive actions against Singapore such as boycotting the city-state's goods and services, avoiding travel/stop-over to the country, and divesting from companies who invest in Singapore. In fact, we are hearing stories in the press that these activities are already occurring, albeit still at a relatively slow pace.

More importantly, however, the tarnished image of Singapore can take on a lore of its own. Recall the Michael Faye's caning incident. At the time of the event in 1994, polls in Faye's home state of Ohio actually showed a majority of people favoring the punishment meted out to him. Yet, ask any average American today about his knowledge of Singapore. He will likely scratch his head, pause a moment, and say "Singa-who?... Wait, isn't that the country that caned that vandal kid?"

More than a decade later, Americans continue to associate Singapore with the caning of Michael Faye. And more than a decade from now, Australians will continue to associate Singapore with the unjust hanging of Nguyen Tuong Van.

19 December 2005

Significant Events of 2005: "Deep Throat" Revealed

For the next few days, the FAIRBANK REPORT will highlight significant stories of 2005 as we prepare for the almost-obligatory "Year in Review."

We were quite disappointed when it was revealed earlier this year that former FBI insider, W. Mark Felt, was "Deep Throat," the source who leaked to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein about President Nixon's attempted cover-up of the Watergate break-in. Yawn. After thirty years of mystery and guessing, we learned that it was a G-man who betrayed the President. We were hoping for someone more devastating, like Nixon's son-in-law or Pat Buchanan or Henry Kissinger. Alas no...

16 December 2005

Two Executions...Worlds Apart

By Sarah Birmingham

Ms. Birmingham is an occasional contributor to the FAIRBANK REPORT.

Ten days after Singapore hanged Nguyen Tuong Van, the state of California executed Stan “Tookie” Williams. Two state executions in two weeks but quite worlds apart.

The Substantive Law

Nguyen Van was convicted of drug smuggling by a judge. He was on his way home to Australia when he was caught with 400 grams of heroine strapped to his torso by officers at Singapore's Changi Airport.

Tookie Williams was convicted of four first-degree murders by a Los Angeles County jury. Williams killed a 7-11 store clerk and three members of the Yang family who ran a small motel in South Los Angeles.

The Procedural Law

Nguyen Van had one appeal to the Singapore Supreme Court and one executive appeal to the President of the Republic of Singapore for clemency.

The same jury that convicted Williams also meted out the death penalty against him. In addition, Williams had 25 years’ worth of appeals through: the California Appellate Court, the California State Supreme Court, the United States District Court, the United States Appellate Court and the United States Supreme Court. Because of the length of the appeals processes in the United States, which in Williams’s case was a quarter of a century, Williams’s case was actually heard by about a dozen different individual judges.

Williams also launched executive appeals for clemency with several sitting state governors, including the present governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, according to press accounts, agonized over the decision for several sleepless nights.

The Method of Execution

Nguyen Van was hanged on the gallows, which by most accounts is the cruelest form of execution. Williams’s execution was via lethal injection.

Reasonable people will disagree over the (in)justice of the death penalty. However, the differences as shown above in these two criminal cases are quite startling.

That’s why reasonable people the world over have expressed outrage against the inherent injustice in the Nguyen Van case.

FAIRBANK REPORT's 2005 "Persons of the Year."

Originally posted December 8, 2005


How does that Barbra Streisand's song go again? "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." In Nguyen Tuong Caleb Van's case, he was indeed lucky to have two mates, as the Aussies say, who gave their utmost to him over the last three months, if not longer. Van's high school friends Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew worked tirelessly to rally Australia and indeed the world behind his cause. They put their lives on hold for him. They gave him their time, boundless energy, affection, compassion and spiritual comfort. They comforted his mother and brother. And Kelly and Bronwyn represented Australia well on the world stage, although that was not their mission. Theirs was, simply, to tend to a friend in need.

How two skinny young women can have so much physical and emotional stamina as well as strength of character baffles me. We need more young people to be like them.

Therefore, we are delighted to name Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as the FAIRBANK REPORT's "Persons of the Year for Calendar Year 2005."


14 December 2005


It has been reported that the remains of US service personnel returning from Iraq have been classified as "cargo" on commercial jets and that families awaiting at airports have been told to go to the cargo compartments to collect the bodies of their heroes/loved ones. Insensitive and Unacceptable!!

Illegal Immigration and the Demise of the American Middle Class

Originally posted on THE FAIRBANK REPORT, November 2, 2005

By William Barker-Finch

Mr. Barker-Finch is a free-lance writer based in Claremont, California.

When Poncho Villa and his gang of bandits crossed the sparsely populated Arizona and New Mexico border areas to raid on American towns and hamlets, President Woodrow Wilson sent in federal troops to defend American citizens and American sovereignty. Yesterday, we hear from the Border Patrol that the number of attacks against its agents by both the illegal aliens and their smugglers has skyrocketed over the last few years.

Yet, we hear nothing from the Executive Mansion except that they would like to have a “guest-worker” program, which will undoubtedly spur on more illegal immigration and thus more attacks against our small cadre of border patrol agents. The purposeful neglect of border enforcement has gone on for years through both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. Amidst the constant bickering over Iraq and taxes, it appears that there is one common thread linking the two political parties: the support of an open border policy.

Democrats believe that more poor, uneducated, unsophisticated and diseased immigrants mean more Democratic voters in the future. In fact, Democrats don’t have to wait that long as there is ample evidence that illegal immigrants have voted in certain crucial local and national elections. Republicans, at the national level, represent the interests of big business—the big farm concerns, construction firms, food processing firms and other labor-intensive industries. These corporate fat cats want cheap and docile labor to boost their (already obscene) corporate profits.

At the same time, no party represents Joe Sixpack. He is burdened with high taxes to pay for the social services provided to illegal aliens. In fact, Joe has become the de facto benefits administrator-cum-payer for corporate America. Meanwhile, his middle class job is threatened with overseas outsourcing, and for those service jobs that cannot be easily outsourced, Joe is being undercut by unskilled, low-wage illegal immigrants. Joe’s schools have been so over-run with illegals that he has to put his kids in private school, which is another expense he can ill afford. His neighborhood, too, has been overtaken by illegals who live 19 to a room, which by the way is the allowable standard in the immigrant-dominant City of Santa Ana, California. And at 6 AM this morning just as he is about to put in another 12-hour day, Joe is rear-ended by an illegal who has no license and of course no automobile insurance. Another $500 out of Joe’s pocket for the deductible.

But there is a quiet and growing movement afoot to help out Joe Sixpack. In the wee hours of the night, patriotic radio hosts and Internet bloggers on sites like this are engaging in a revolution to reclaim the American government by educating the public about this problematic issue. The open-border Dems and Reps currently in power won’t know what hit them. They will still be talking about driver’s license and welfare for illegal immigrants when they are finally thrown out from Joe’s House of Representatives and Joe’s Senate.

Patience, Joe. Patience. Help is on the way…

08 December 2005


How does that Barbra Streisand's song go again? "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."

In Nguyen Tuong Caleb Van's case, he was indeed lucky to have two mates, as the Aussies say, who gave their utmost to him over the last three months, if not longer. Van's high school friends Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew worked tirelessly to rally Australia and indeed the world behind his cause. They put their lives on hold for him. They gave him their time, boundless energy, affection, compassion and spiritual comfort. They comforted his mother and brother. And Kelly and Bronwyn represented Australia well on the world stage, although that was not their mission. Theirs was, simply, to tend to a friend in need.

How two skinny young women can have so much physical and emotional stamina as well as strength of character baffles me. We need more young people to be like them.

Therefore, we are delighted to name Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as the FAIRBANK REPORT's "Persons of the Year for Calendar Year 2005."


07 December 2005

The Nguyen Tuong Van Case: An Epilogue

By Jonathan Fairbank, Editor-in-Chief

It is fitting that on the early morning of Van’s funeral, Melbourne was in the midst of an unusual summer storm. Heaven, too, is not indifferent to injustice. Later in the day, thousands of people flocked to St. Patrick's Cathedral, in the eastside of the city, to pay their final respects to the 25-year-old salesman turned smuggler.

He’s no hero, said Van’s attorney. That’s true. He was a mediocre kid who made one grave error and paid for it with his young life. His offense was a jailable crime, not one which is warranted by death by hanging. That’s where the injustice lies.

And that’s why thousands of Australians and thousands more overseas mourn Van’s death. It was uncalled for; it was barbaric “justice.”

Yet, even before Van was laid to rest, red-neck Australians and perhaps agents of the Singaporean propaganda machine have been telling the press that Nguyen Van deserved the death penalty. A recent poll, if correct, reveals that about half of the Australian public said Van deserved the noose.

While Australia does have a reputation for and a history of intolerance, I would like to think that a significant segment of the anti-Van crowd is just being contrarian because of the massive media coverage of this case in Australia. I would like to think that the vast and overwhelming majority of Australians are more like those who gathered at St. Patrick's today and at the parish church Friday last as Van was taking his last breadth—people of conscience who see the manifest injustice against a naïve criminal who deserved a jail sentence and not death…

In His Own Hand: Planning His Own Funeral

Nguyen Tuong Van's Last Words

The following is taken from the final page of Van's prison diary. It was written at about 4 AM on December 2, 2005, two hours before his execution in Singapore:

It is now the 11th hour. My work here is done now. Pray, may I not have failed you completely and by the Grace of God may you find strength and comfort in these words my heart now speaks to you my brothers and sisters.

As I lay here listening to the prayers being said for me I take measure of all that has taken place and what is about to be. I am returning to the Lord now. He loves us all so much. He is in all of us. He's always been there. It is we who need to love Him.

I shall be looking down on you and shall be in all your hearts. I shall never cease to love you and can only promise I will never leave your side. To know that I am there you need only place your hands (on) your heart and I'll be there.

I now thank each and everyone for all that has been achieved by the love you all possess. Amazing Grace because that is what you are.

I smile now as I prepare myself to return to the Lord. You all are now in my prayers. Please don't be sorry but instead celebrate the life God has made possible through his love. These shall be my last words now. But I will see you again. Be of great faith; of greater courage and firm heart.

It is now my time. May God continue to bless you. May His light shine upon you. May He grant you peace and bring you everlasting life. Amen.

See you my brothers and sisters.

I love you … and forever will.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, to one and all whom have fought so hard for my life, to all who have prayed and those I have hurt, please forgive me for my sins and accept my sincere apologies.

Death of a Salesman: Final Farewell to Nguyen Tuong Van

A Poem for Nguyen Tuong Van
By Ian Bui
Dallas,TX, USA

They carefully measure my weight
Then faithfully record my height
To calculate a string so straight
With which to stop my fall in flight

It is a most humane method
With a poetic sounding name
Officials call it the “Long Drop”
But in the end it’s all the same

They say my neck will snap so fast
Hardly will I feel any pain—
A “comatose asphyxia” blast
(If all metrics conform to plan)

Mother, forgive me for your grief
I never meant to cause you shame
Brother, my life – however brief
You’re not the one to take the blame

Let them who wealth and fortunes make
Upon the backs of mules like me
And them whose power to give and take
Is stained with blood which none can see

Let them who judge us by their book
Yet lie in proud hypocrisies
One day themselves be tried as crooks
Who are earth’s vilest enemies

When I am gone, please do not weep
Take up the fight where it belongs
I’ll give you all the rope you need
To set aright these onerous wrongs

My spine they’ll break from the gallows
Thusly I’ll pay my exit toll
When that sun rises tomorrow
Your love and spirit sheathe my soul

06 December 2005



"Electric Youth"

Over the last decade or so, youth appears to be the currency in British politics. After two decades of electoral defeat, the Labour Party, in 1994, selected a youthful 41-year old Anthony Blair to head the Party. Three years later, Labour won by a landslide in the General Election.

The Tories are now taking a page from their Labour counterparts' strategy book. Having suffered defeat in three consecutive general elections, the Conservative Party has "out-youthed" Labour by electing the 39-year-old David Cameron to head the Party and challenge Labour in the next general election.

Yes, youthfulness is appealing. Yes, youthfulness revitalizes politics. But what about experience? If the Tories are defeated again in the next general election, will they then turn to a twenty-something to lead the Party?!

05 December 2005

FR: Nguyen's Death in Singapore Not in Vain

End death penalty: Singapore nun
By Steve Butcher
The Age, Melbourne December 4, 2005

Singapore: A SENIOR Singapore nun has taken the dramatic step of calling on her Government to drop the death penalty, following the execution of Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van.

In a move that may anger Singapore's leaders, Sister Susan Chia, province leader of the Good Shepherd Sisters, described the death penalty as cruel and inhumane. It violated the right to life, she said.

It has been nuns from the Marymount Convent, part of Sister Chia's constituency, who have cared and comforted Nguyen's mother and twin brother here for the two weeks before Friday's hanging.

Singapore, which has always been sensitive to internal criticism, enforces the mandatory death penalty for serious crimes, including the heroin offence Nguyen committed in 2002.

Sister Susan Chia appealed in the carefully worded statement, issued yesterday by Nguyen's lead lawyer, Lex Lasry, QC, for "our leaders" to seek alternatives to the death penalty.

She said in the opening line that the Good Shepherd Sisters shared the "deep sorrow" his mother, Kim Nguyen, and twin brother, Khoa, felt at his execution.

The statement continued: "As we try desperately to soften a mother's pain at the loss of her son, we grapple with the reality of the death penalty.

"The death penalty is cruel, inhumane and it violates the right to life.
"Each life is always precious, even when punishment is required.
"While we want to make our streets drug-free and safe for our children, should it be at the expense of terminating the life of a person? Punishment and justice must always include mercy.
"We join the many voices throughout the world in appealing to our leaders to search for alternatives to the death penalty."

Mr Lasry told the Sunday Age the Good Shepherd Sisters "wanted to make a stand".
"They adored Van, and they wanted to make a stand because they were so affected by his death, and this (statement) is their way of doing it," he said.

Meanwhile, Nguyen's closest friends, Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew, said Nguyen, 25, made them keep promises — Ms Ng was told not cut her long hair for the next seven years — and he promised to find a boyfriend for Ms Lew.

Ms Ng told Nguyen after he made his request: "Mate, I love you, but at least let me get rid of my split ends."

Both were yesterday handed by officials from the Australian high commission letters from Nguyen that were included in a box of personal possessions from his death row cell in Changi Prison.

Arriving back in Melbourne yesterday morning Nguyen's lawyer, Julian McMahon, said: "Despite the cruel sadness (of the execution), Van has made sure his mother has come to a sense of peace, and we are all hoping she will be able to keep that sense of peace over the coming months."

When asked what he would remember most about Van, Mr McMahon said: "A steady journey to be a good person."


Nguyen Tuong Van: Look Homeward, Angel

04 December 2005


By Diori Yu

Diori Yu is a free-lance writer based in Southern California.

First, let me congratulate the FAIRBANK REPORT for its extensive coverage of the Nguyen Tuong Van case by means of both the narrative and photographic essays. The FR is one of a very few North America-based weblogs that actually followed this emotive story, which only goes to underscore the importance of the Internet and the blogosphere, in particular, as a significant alternative to the traditional media outlets.

I continue to be haunted by the scene at that small Melbourne church where hundreds of people had gathered to pray for Nguyen Tuong Van. As the clock struck 9 AM in Melbourne (6:00 AM, December 2 in Singapore), which was the scheduled time of Nguyen’s hanging, the church bells tolled 25 times, one for each of the young victim’s years on earth. And the people sobbed—some quietly, others less so, all expressing indignant pain. It was only a 30-second video clip, but it was one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen.

The good people who gathered at that small parish church represented all walks of Australian life: the young and old, Asians and whites, Christians and non-Christians, liberals and conservatives, and men, women and children. They are united by two factors.

The first is the manifest injustice in this case. As stated elsewhere in the FAIRBANK REPORT, this crime, which in some jurisdictions might just constitute a misdemeanor, deserves a jail sentence, not the death sentence. And the absence of judicial involvement in the sentencing and appeals processes, let alone judicial review, smacks of the rule of policy rather than the rule of law.

The second factor that unites the people assembled at the church and indeed throughout the world is the compassion they feel for the Nguyen family. No mother or brother should ever go through the anguish of the last three weeks that the Nguyens have experienced. Although they will never know the Nguyen family’s pain, decent people can and do feel it. And they have responded with an immense outpouring of moral support.

Blessed are those who care about injustice. Blessed are those who have compassion. Blessed are those who are decent.