Bet­ter Man

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Thurs­day, 8.30PM, SBS One This is the grip­ping true story of Van Nguyen (played by Remy Hii) who was caught at Sin­ga­pore air­port on De­cem­ber 12, 2002, car­ry­ing heroin strapped around his mid­dle. A Viet­namese Aus­tralian, Van, 25, was hanged in 2005 de­spite an out­pour­ing of sup­port from Aus­tralians, in­clud­ing then prime min­is­ter John Howard, to have his death sen­tence com­muted. Writ­ten and di­rected by a for­mer Young Aus­tralian of the Year, Khoa Do, it’s the com­pelling story of how a young man, des­per­ate to pay off $20,000 in fam­ily debts, falls in with a drug boss who prom­ises to solve his fi­nan­cial prob­lems if he car­ries the drugs from Cam­bo­dia to Syd­ney. Van had an un­blem­ished record; he was a stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive at univer­sity and of­ten worked three jobs to help his sin­gle mother and twin brother, but naively trusted Soon, who threat­ened to harm the fam­ily if Van re­neged. Even the po­lice of­fi­cer who in­ter­views him at the air­port is taken by his story and stops him from sign­ing a state­ment ad­mit­ting to traf­fick­ing, which would re­sult in ex­e­cu­tion. Episode one ends with Ber­nadette McMa­hon (Clau­dia Kar­van) from the Aus­tralian high com­mis­sion rac­ing to reach Van be­fore he in­crim­i­nates him­self. Har­row­ing but well worth watch­ing.

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