This is about the Perth in Australia, the Perth in Scotland is featured in another page. It was a family trip. For my twin and I, the first trip further than Singapore! We visited the Pinnacles, sort of an analogue to Britain's Stonehenge, which Scott Peck wrote a book on. The Pinnacles was jaw-dropping. When we arrived our 1-year-old niece opened her eyes from sleep and exclaimed, "Wow!" Ok, we under-estimated a toddler's ability to wow at geological wonders.
After touring the emu farm, we were at the restaurant for lunch. The restaurant owner was very friendly and he started talking about emu meat. The moment I found out that it was emu meat on my plate, my stomach overturned. Oh well, come to think of it: if I have been eating chicken why can't I eat emu? That's serious discrimination! Then we come to the question of eating animals. On this matter I have only one problem: if I find it cruel to eat animals I would find it equally cruel to eat plants and I would be left with nothing to feed on.
We also visited Freemantle Prison where we heard some ghost and non-ghost stories. It seems a particular prisoner with photographic memory was able to duplicate keys just by seeing the keys hanging from a patrolling guard's belt. Criminals are probably the most marginalised intelligent lot. Who's smarter... Women and men voted to lead their nation? Scientists honoured with the Nobel prize? Creators of computer viruses (I was utterly impressed when someone instructed me on the technical details of computer viruses)? Or cheeky bones quietly laughing down the dungeons?
A friend used to say, if you ask a prisoner, "What have you done? Why are you in prison?" A familiar answer would be, "Because I got caught." By the way the same friend has such a crush with prison and prisoners that during his travels, when fellow tourists inquire about his profession, he would answer, "I just came out of prison." Ok, he is a retired chief fireman, no ridiculing matter considering the plight of many prisoners. But he got it right in challenging the norm's need to show-off one's profession. Persons ought to be respected as persons, full-stop. Whether he/she is a prisoner or a professor.
Freemantle's was the only prison I've been. I have read a lot about Puduraya Prison of Kuala Lumpur, which was very near the notorious ex-main-bus-station, Puduraya. The Star newspaper had a few coverages under its Section Two about that penjara (prison in Malay). Personal accounts of sodomy along with descriptions of pain and abuse were most disheartening. At any moment, there are really more people living in agony than many of us remember. Similar sad stories can be found in Shawshank Redemption.
Both Freemantle and Puduraya prisons are no longer in operation. What for punishing? I'm not sure what's punishment for, besides creating a deterrent from further offences by the same individual as well as onlookers. If a person doesn't realise his/her wrong-doing, punishment isn't going to mean anything. On the other hand if he/she realises that it was wrong, then there wouldn't be any need for punishment at all. After each tragic incident on the news people vow to 'bring the offender to justice' so that they may 'carry on with their lives'. I for one do not believe in such vengeance.