Australian PM questions scholarships in honour of Chan and Sukumaran

Australian PM questions scholarships in honour of Chan and Sukumaran
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that he considers a recent move by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) to offer scholarships in honour of executed drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran an odd thing to do.

"We know that they were repentant, we know that they were rehabilitated, we know that they seem to have met their fate with a kind of nobility and all of that is admirable.

But whether that justifies what has apparently been done is open to profound question," he told Sydney radio 2GB as quoted by Australian newspaper Courier-Mail.

Abbott added that the scholarships sent a very unusual message as the institution was supposed to stand up for the best values, even though he recognised forgiveness as one of the Christian values.

The new scholarships will be offered to Indonesian students to take undergraduate courses and will cover full tuition fees for up to four years at any of the ACU campuses.

Candidates are required to submit an essay on the sanctity of human life to get the scholarship, a topic frequently discussed in the light of the execution of eight drug convicts in Indonesia on Tuesday.

ACU vice chancellor Greg Craven previously said in an official statement that the scholarships were seen as a fitting tribute to the reformation, courage and dignity of the two men.

He hoped that in a small yet a deeply symbolic way, Indonesian students writing on the sanctity of life would contribute to the abolition of the death penalty in Indonesia.

Chan and Sukumaran were executed by firing squad after being arrested in Bali in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 8.3 kg of heroin.

Before their executions, the two were detained in Kerobokan Penitentiary and set up several rehabilitation programs, including art and computer workshops.

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