Anything's better than bullets

Anything's better than bullets
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo

EXCLUSIVE: Rio de Janeiro, today, 2017: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is to be nominated for the Nobel Prize for international leadership in developing new ways to handle the drug scourge.

The recommendation, which has yet to be officially announced, has been unanimously endorsed by the 22 heads of the Brazil-based Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)

We have obtained the statement that will accompany the announcement. It says two years ago when President Jokowi opened his campaign to wipe out the drug trade, few believed he could persuade other nations to follow his step.

The fact that more than 50 countries have since followed Indonesia makes President Jokowi an appropriate recipient, the statement says.

State Palace insiders claim the President's epiphany followed a meeting with Virgin airlines founder Sir Richard Branson.

Earlier appeals by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to stay the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran had apparently hardened the President's resolve.

"The pleas angered the President," said a senior aide speaking on condition of anonymity. "He reckoned Mr. Abbott cared only for his two citizens, and not about all those on death row or our 4.5 million addicts - that's about the population of Sydney.

"With scores dying every day the electorate demanded decisive action. Mr. Abbott offered no solutions. When he linked mercy to the 2004 tsunami aid, Mr. Jokowi turned off his phone. He's a man who reacts to reason, not pressure.

"Sir Richard is a tough businessman, not a parochial politician. He thinks laterally and invited the President to lead the world by finding new ways to tackle drugs."

Palace sources confirmed a secret meeting had been held where the mega millionaire, who is a board member of the GCDP, offered well-researched facts from the commission's archives.

Contacts present at the closed-door forum revealed that Sir Richard said that shortly before the Bali Nine smugglers had been caught, Indonesia had already executed three foreign drug traffickers. This was widely known yet the Australians still went ahead; this fact made nonsense of the deterrent theory.

GCDP analysts had shown that addicts and mules were damaged people in hopeless financial and personal situations, unable to make sane choices. They take risks whatever the punishment because every option is dreadful. All believe they are too smart to get caught.

The GCDP offered to fund a review led by Indonesian criminologists into the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent and the government agreed to a moratorium.

The 178 page document is expected to be presented at a glittering event in the State Palace next month. The buzz says Oprah Winfrey may be a guest.

Last night in London Sir Richard praised Jokowi as a man of courage and foresight. "I remember way back in 2015 thinking he was a stubborn guy, a foreigner to facts," he said.

"What some considered intransigence was, in fact, a mask for the admirable Javanese traits of compassion and deep thinking. I told him 'let's kill the trade, not the traders'. Anything's better than bullets."

The entrepreneur stayed tight-lipped on the report's 17 recommendations. These are expected to include substituting long jail time for the death penalty and shorter spells for reformers who have expressed real remorse.

It is no secret there will be an international centre for the prevention of drug trading at the Gadjah Mada University; modern clinics in every province will help rehabilitate users.

A "No Demand - No Supply" social media campaign against drugs will be launched shortly.

Cash for these initiatives will come from a 10 per cent levy on every packet of smokes sold.

A State Palace spokesman refused to confirm or deny the report.

However, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said if the story was true, a Nobel Prize nomination was a great privilege.

He added: "However the real honour belongs to the Indonesian people who have backed the President's noble journey to make Indonesia a world leader in stamping out the drug trade while protecting human rights".

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