I was too afraid to sleep

27 Jul

The Sun-Herald leads today with one of the first close-up stories on the ABC foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd who is facing drugs charges in Singapore: I was too afraid to sleep – World – There is little doubt the alleged offences are minor in comparison with other cases one has heard about, but Singapore — as of course Lloyd would have well known — is not exactly lax on these matters.

Some here in Australia will be with him in spirit, while others will be less sympathetic. It would be interesting to know how various Australian readers will react to this latest report:

In his first interview since being charged with trafficking and possessing drugs he revealed he had been suffering traumatic flashbacks and nightmares after covering the region’s tragedies, such as the Bali bombings and the tsunami.

These had left him too afraid to sleep, a phobia which peaked in the two months leading up to his July 16 arrest, he said.

Lloyd – who separated from wife Kirsty McIvor six months ago and declared himself gay – faces a maximum sentence of 20 years and 15 strokes of the rattan cane for allegedly selling 0.15 grams of ice for $76 to a Singaporean man at the York Hotel on July 9.

Police also allegedly found 0.41 grams of the methamphetamine on him, along with utensils bearing traces of ice and the veterinary drug Special K, when he was arrested at Mount Elizabeth Hospital a week later. He was based in New Delhi but was in Singapore to seek treatment for an eye infection.

Yesterday he said he did not have a wild or risk-taking personality and the infection was “in no way connected with drugs”.

Lloyd’s partner, Malay-Singaporean Mohamed Mazlee bin Abdul Malik, posted $S60,000 ($45,000) bail for him to walk free on Wednesday. During Lloyd’s next court appearance, on Friday, Mr Malik appeared upset, clutching the hand of Lloyd’s sister, Cathy Mulcahy.

Lloyd – who is yet to enter a plea – is due back in court on Friday.

First, I suspect some Christians — or those who claim that allegiance — will be stooping down to pick up that first stone. I won’t follow that example. Clearly Lloyd has been through a lot, complicated no doubt — but perhaps also eased? — by his recent self-discovery. (Believe me, no-one, and I really mean no-one, EVER “decides” to be gay.) As for the experiences he has been through as a foreign correspondent, I gained some small insight into that — and I mean small — through my meeting a former ABC correspondent in Israel and Iraq last year. I am not sure how I would have coped with what these men and women often go through, with what they witness. So I am not going to moralise about drugs in this case, much as I normally am very much decided on that subject, “ice” especially. (I am strongly anti.)

As for the ethos in Singapore, particularly from the perspective of GLBT people, there are few better sources than Singaporean Au Waipang. For example, read Attorney-General says “human rights now a religion” with fanatics from his June 2008 archive.

Last Thursday, the new Attorney-General, Walter Woon, speaking at a gathering of lawyers,

warned against a no-holds-barred society. In some places, he said, religions were targets for insults and advocates for same-sex marriage were allowed to frame their cause under the banner of human rights.

But is this what we want?… Is this a question of human rights?’ he asked.

— Straits Times, 31 May 2008, A-G cautions against human rights becoming a ‘religion’ with fanatics

I would guess that according to Walter Woon, these people are not fanatics, but gay activists are.

Woon has been very selective in choosing two particularly emotive issues to frame his rhetorical question about what should constitute human rights, but a dispassionate glance at his own examples will tell you he is wrong. These are questions of human rights.

When one class of people (heterosexuals) are accorded privileges by the state and another (homosexuals) not, then it is a question of equality, which presumptively is a question of human rights.

When religions go about denigrating the dignity of women and circumscribing their social freedoms, or go about demonising gay people and demanding that they be criminalised, then indeed the human rights of the target populations are being violated.

My emphasis; do read the whole article.

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2 responses to “I was too afraid to sleep

  1. Denys

    July 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    A sad story (Peter’s arrest) which for me was compounded by the fact that he had only recently ‘come out’ as gay. I reckon he could be suffering from some type of post traumatic stress from what he witnessed as a reporter. Add to that the stress of telling your loved ones that you are gay then it is not too hard to imagine how a person who claims he is not “a risk taker” could become one. My thoughts are with him.

  2. Neil

    July 28, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I agree on the stresses he must have been under, both in relation to his personal issues and relationships, and subsequent to the events he has been close to in recent years. If ever there is a case for some compassion it is this one.

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