Politicians consider Nguyen funeral attendance

Some Victorian State MPs are under fire for planning to attend today's funeral of executed trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van, which will take place at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne.

The Herald-Sun repots that Premier Steve Bracks yesterday said he did not want Nguyen, 25, glorified in death and would not be at the funeral. But Mr Bracks said he would not stand in the way of Government MPs wanting to attend.

Richmond MP Richard Wynne, Footscray MP Bruce Mildenhall, Upper House MP Geoff Hilton and the Government's only Vietnamese-born MP, Sang Minh Nguyen, will attend St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral.

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said it was insulting for MPs to attend the funeral of a confessed drug trafficker.

Mr Bracks said it was appropriate that the Government be represented by Mr Wynne and Mr Mildenhall, who have large Vietnamese communities in their electorates.

"It's really acknowledging that we do oppose the penalty involved and I think those MPs who represent the areas would want to make sure that was known," he said.

The Age reports that the requiem mass, conducted partly in English and in Nguyen's mother Kim's home language of Vietnamese, will begin at 11am (AEDT) at St Patrick's Catholic cathedral, in East Melbourne.

Some of the last words penned by the 25-year-old in his cell at Changi prison are expected to be read to the congregation.

Nguyen left instructions that the hand-written note be read out as part of the service.

He finalised the service details, including the choice of the songs Ave Maria and Amazing Grace, with the Reverend Father Peter Hansen just days before he was sent to the gallows.

Fr Hansen, who will conduct the service, yesterday said the family had requested it be a celebration of Nguyen's life and not be turned into a political statement about the death sentence.

Nguyen's mother will be the chief mourner, but is not expected to do any of the readings at the service.

His twin brother Khoa, who travelled to Singapore to say goodbye to Nguyen before his death, will also be present, as will Nguyen's friends, including Kelly Ng and Bronwyn Lew, who were behind the Reach Out for Van campaign.

His lawyers, Julian McMahon and Lex Lasry QC also are expected to be among the mourners.

A multi-faith service for Nguyen, held last month, attracted more than 1000 people.

Organisers of today's service expect a much larger crowd, but said the cathedral was big enough to support more people.

While the funeral service will be open to members of the public, the family has requested privacy for Nguyen's burial afterwards.

Nguyen Tuong Van funeral furore (Herald-Sun 7/12/05)
Funeral to celebrate Nguyen's life (The Age/Australian Associated Press 6/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
CatholicParish of St Ignatius, Richmond

Priest expects 1000 at Van Nguyen funeral (CathNews 6/12/05)
Pell says abolishing death penalty won't be easy (CathNews 5/12/05)
Van Nguyen's faith-filled last moments (CathNews 2/11/05)
Cathedral requiem for Van Nguyen (CathNews 2/12/05)
Churches, mosques echo with prayers (CathNews 1/12/05)
Prayer vigils for Van Nguyen (CathNews 30/11/05)
Priest says Australia 'galvanised' against death penalty (CathNews 29/11/05)
Statement from bishops urges compassion for Nguyen (CathNews 28/11/05)
Rome group set to mobilise world against death penalty (CathNews 25/11/05)
Commission urges Catholics act on death penalty (CathNews 23/11/05)
Pell gives details on papal plea for Nguyen (CathNews 21/11/05)
Catholic Students unite to help death row Aussie (CathNews 18/11/05)
Catholics and Buddhists pray to cheat hangman (CathNews 7/11/05)
Centacare Melbourne urges Govt to save Nguyen (CathNews 28/10/05)
Papal intervention for death row drug trafficker (CathNews 25/10/05)

Maryland executes killer of teacher's aide (Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald 6/12/05)
Australian cardinal says fight against death penalty is uphill battle (The Universe 6/12/05)

7 Dec 2005