DESPITE his looming execution, Australian drug convict Andrew Chan married his Indonesian fiancee Febyanti Herewila yesterday.
His family members were present during the short ceremony at the prison on Nusakambangan island, where he will face the firing squad.
“It was an enjoyable moment,” his brother Michael told ABC News. “We would just like to celebrate that with him tomorrow as well. It’s tough times, but happy times at the same time.”
Chan, 31, proposed to “Feby” in February after he learnt that Indonesian President Joko Widodo had rejected his clemency bid. They met in 2012 when she started to assist prisoners at Bali’s Kerobokan prison where Chan was serving time. She has described him as “one of the strongest, kindest people I have ever met”.
Chan has undergone a series of transformations since his arrest at Bali’s airport 10 years ago. Back then, he would joke around with the Indonesian police, an unusual response for a man who was facing the prospect of execution, along with his Australian accomplice Myuran Sukumaran.
But Chan, by his own admission, had paid little mind to the consequences of his crime.
“I definitely didn’t think of the impact,” he told Australian news portal news.com.au after he had spent eight years in prison. “I was probably selfish and obnoxious… You do feel invincible.”
The son of Chinese immigrants to Australia, Chan left high school at age 15 and worked at his parents’ Chinese restaurant before joining a catering firm.
Before he turned to drug smuggling, Chan was working hard and living at home, but was taking heroin and believed his life was going nowhere. “I don’t think I was achieving too much, even though I had a stable job and all,” he told a friend last month, according to The Australian newspaper. “I was a drug user… It was just quick payday. Nothing more, nothing less.”
When he was arrested in April 2005 for his part in an attempt to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin to Australia, Chan was not carrying drugs and later protested his innocence.
“I was basically clowning around and I thought to myself I could probably get myself out of this jam, just like I’d gotten myself out of a lot of jams in my lifetime,” he told Australian TV network Channel Seven from prison two years ago. “But it was probably… two or three days (later)… that reality hit.”
Chan admitted he considered taking his life after his arrest to save his family from the shame. He was raised as a Buddhist, but asked for a Bible the day after he stood on a chair and tied his shirt around his neck while contemplating suicide. He has since become a Christian.
In 2011, at his appeal, he spoke in Indonesian, apologising for his behaviour and for not showing “the proper respect for the court”. He said: “I know that I did some stupid things when I was younger and I know that I can’t change my past, but I have genuinely changed my behaviour and I really want to focus on what I can do now and in the future.”
As he faces his final days, Chan, who believes in an afterlife, is said to be calm and ready to accept his fate.