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Daily Telegraph

Oct 29, 2009

The Daily Tele - Peddling outrage instead of justice.

The Daily Telegraph are feeding off the grief of a family and trying to undermine the justice system in New South Wales as they peddle their latest outrage of the week. The decision by

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The Daily Telegraph are feeding off the grief of a family and trying to undermine the justice system in New South Wales as they peddle their latest outrage of the week. The decision by the NSW Parole Authority to release one of the men who was convicted of the murder of high profile heart surgeon Dr Victor Chang has given the Tele the chance to spout righteous indignation and call for the judgement of their staff and readers to trump that of the professionals who work in the justice system.

The Daily Telegraph's anti-parole petition

There are few crimes considered more heinous than murder, and the murder of heart surgeon Victor Chang was one that was deeply felt by the community. Throughout New South Wales people had stories of how a family member, a friend, or they themselves had been helped by a man who was regarded as not only a talented surgeon, but as one whose genuine concern for his patients almost seemed to will people to recovery.

There is no way that the incarceration of Victor Chang’s murderers could fully compensate our community, let alone his family, for his death, however we do have in place a justice system which is tasked with punishing people convicted of crimes against individuals and the community at large. It was this justice system that decided that Phillip Choon Tee Lim should serve at least 18 years in prison, up to a maximum of 24 years. It is this same justice system that has decided that, having served 18 years of his sentence, Lim should no longer be held in prison.

But The Daily Telegraph has decided that it knows better.

Dr Victor Chang’s killer must be kept in jail

.. more than 1300 people who have signed an online petition calling on the NSW Parole Board to review its decision to release him on November 11 – the day his 18-year minimum sentence ends.

As well as the petition, 3000 people have voted in an online poll – 79.64 per cent demanding Lim not be released next month

As seems to be standard operating procedure whenever the Tele or one of the AM radio jocks starts up their outrage machine, NSW politicians are now falling over themselves to be associated with being on the right side of the Tele’s campaign rather than standing up for the people in our justice system who have the difficult and thankless task of dealing with offenders and making the onerous decisions about their punishment, rehabilitation and release.

Not only are the Tele joining the outrage about Lim’s release, they’re now complaining about the rehabilitation programs he completed while in prison.

HE was convicted of one of Australia’s most notorious, and senseless, murders.

But instead of being enrolled in a Corrective Services violent offender program, Dr Victor Chang’s killer attended the jail version of gamblers anonymous.

Complicating this case is the fact that as Lim is not an Australian citizen he will be deported to Malaysia upon release rather than going through the parole system, leading to claims that he has been granted early release from jail.

Campaigns like this one, that use an emotive case as the basis for criticism of our justice system, do our community no favours at all. By undermining people’s faith in the courts and corrective services we are left feeling that we are not being adequately protected, that the system of punishment is insufficient, and that community concerns are not being represented. The fact is that when people are properly informed that’s not the impression that they come away with, but rather than informing their readers the Daily Telegraph is once again simply promoting outrage.

Equally worrying is the fact that The Daily Telegraph’s ability to objectively report on this case has been completely undermined by its decision to become a participant in this issue rather than a reporter. Not unlike Fox News’ decision in the US to help promote and organise the anti-Obama Tea Party rallies, then report on them as legitimate grass roots organisations, the Telegraph is using the front page of its website to promote their petition, which they are then using as proof of community feeling about this issue. This goes beyond the blurring of news and opinion and strays into the manufacturing of news, which undermines people’s trust in the media.

The Daily Telegraph is doing itself, our community, the justice system and the family and friends of Dr Victor Chang a disservice by the way it has chosen to campaign on this issue.

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19 comments

19 thoughts on “The Daily Tele – Peddling outrage instead of justice.

  1. umberto

    Ahaa. But there is an option 3! Invade another nation and start transporting convicted criminals there. Out of sight, out of mind.

  2. Josh

    This is now the default position for News Ltd. Activism rather than reporting. Have a look at the “grass roots” Tea Party stuff in the US.
    Obama was right. They are no longer a news organisation.

  3. RobJ

    “There is no way to undo what has happened, no amount of vengeance will bring Dr Chang back.”

    This is true, 18 years is still too short a sentence for murder in my opinion. To me prison is there to punish perpetrators and keep society safe from dangerous people, I don’t buy the rehabilitation argument because it seems to me that prison is somewhere you can learn how not to get caught next time.

    I would preserve prison for dangerous crims, rapists, murderers, paedophiles, violent robbers, violent people etc etc. In my world white collar, petty thieves, joy riders etc etc would be doing community service, no-one wants to wipe an old man’s arse, someone has to (in an aged care home) let’s make the non-imprisoned convicts do this sort of thing as a community service.

    No doubt I’m about to get torn apart by the legal expert types that reside here, hey, that’s just the way I see it, I apologise in advance for any inconsistencies in my views

  4. RobJ

    “One should be that the prisoner admits guilt another should be that the prisoner chooses either life imprisonment or death.”

    The problem I have with this is that the person who admitted guilt may well have been coerced, they may have a mental illness making it easier to coerce them. I realise that you’ve pointed out that that this is just one of your conditions.

    “As I have asked before (and been deafened by the silence) what is crueller, caged for life or put to death?”

    Fair point, but as you know the death penalty cannot be reversed the convict cannot be compensated.

    FTR I don’t think 18 years is long enough for murder, also I don’t think the sentence should be any more severe because Dr Chang was a great man (he was) all human life should be treated equally in law.

  5. twobob

    I advocate life imprisonment with an optional death sentence. I suggest that several important rules be positioned before a death sentence is carried out.
    One should be that the prisoner admits guilt another should be that the prisoner chooses either life imprisonment or death.
    As I have asked before (and been deafened by the silence) what is crueller, caged for life or put to death?
    Families get life, individuals murdered get life and those who kill should get no less. That is only fair.

  6. Dave Gaukroger

    So what is your alternative solution twobob? As Jeremy pointed out the only alternatives to the parole system are life imprisonment and it’s costs, execution and the chance of killing innocent people, or doing away with parole and then letting people re-enter society after their sentence sends without any sort of supervision.

    There is no way to undo what has happened, no amount of vengeance will bring Dr Chang back.

  7. twobob

    How many years did Dr Chang get?
    What did the Dr do wrong?
    How can justice be a lesser sentence for the perpetrator of a crime than for the victim?
    The whole legal system is broken. Justice is just
    Too many people on the planet and I for one despise sharing my oxygen with these scumbags.

  8. Pedro

    Dave, my apologies for not clicking the link. Your post would have much benefitted by making clear it was a Telegraph petition.

    Now, pointing to bad behaviour to excuse bad behaviour is not something I normally do. But.

    Cast your mind back to a dedicated Fairfax website, complete with petition, politicians’ email addresses and phone numbers, and daily front-page links to DONATE!! to save David Hicks.

    A precedent in allowing “journalism” to act as activism? You bet.

  9. Tobias Ziegler

    What Dave said, Pedro. A media outlet can report on community outrage (news) and can express outrage on their own behalf (opinion), but once they start actively encouraging community outrage they are no longer acting as the media. They’re community organisers.

  10. Dave Gaukroger

    Pedro, the Daily Telegraph are the ones running the petition. They are not simply reporting the issue, they are playing the part of an advocate. Don’t you think that affects their ability to provide unbiased coverage?

  11. Pedro

    I don’t see an issue here, Dave.

    The Telegraph reported on a petition and the results of a poll.

    Perhaps they should have ran the headline as: Dr Victor Chang’s murderer “must be kept in jail”, but then knowing you guys get all shirty about using “quotes” in headlines that’s a no-win as well.

    But community feedback on Lim’s release is certainly a story of interest.

  12. Dave Gaukroger

    As I briefly touched on in the post, there is also the problem of vilifying the public servants who work in the justice system. The worse that these jobs are made by petty media attacks, the harder it is to fill them, therefore we have to either spend more money or accept lower quality candidates, hardly a recipe for good outcomes either way.

  13. Jeremy Sear

    Well, if they don’t want them released, then there are two options: life imprisonment (very expensive), or execution (which risks killing innocent people).

  14. Dave Gaukroger

    I’m surprised the Tele didn’t trott out a poll about bringing back the death penalty.
    They can only undermine one plank of the justice system at a time Confessions.

  15. GavinM

    Hello Jeremy

    “Their campaign appears to be criticising the very existence of parole for serious crimes – would they prefer that people were just released into the community at the end of long prison sentences without any supervision at all?”

    I rather suspect that they would prefer to not see them released at all.

    As an aside, my father was one of Dr. Chang’s early patients — (Chang jokingly called him one of his “guinea-pigs” when he talked to him before and after his operation) – he was one of the first to have a pacemaker and replacement valve inserted into his heart…

    A great surgeon and man, who’s loss will never be replaced.

  16. confessions

    I’m surprised the Tele didn’t trott out a poll about bringing back the death penalty. That’s what they usually do with things like this.

  17. bpobjie

    No Jeremy, they would prefer they were hanged. I don’t think they’re very subtle about this desire.

  18. Aldaron

    Not to mention that any programs that prisoners complete in jail seem to be equated with a “soft touch”. How on Earth does a prisoner successfully completing a Gambler’s Anonymous program in jail *harm* our society?? Whether it’s AA, anger management or whatever, the fact that a prisoner is completing these programs should be seen as a *good* thing for society in general, as opposed to the prisoner being given some kind of “undeserved benefit”.

  19. Jeremy Sear

    Can anyone point me to where the Tele has made any effort at all to explain why the Parole Board considers it appropriate to gradually release prisoners into the community once the non-parole period is up? Or what the alternative would be? Their campaign appears to be criticising the very existence of parole for serious crimes – would they prefer that people were just released into the community at the end of long prison sentences without any supervision at all?

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