Nguyen funeral held in Melb

The Catholic requiem mass began at 11am (AEDT), and elm trees outside the church bore yellow ribbons, tied by Nguyen’s friends as a symbol of the Changi Prison rehabilitation program.

Mourners, many dressed in white, lined the sides of the cathedral and stood six-deep at the back among dozens of memorial candles, and several sat on the steps outside or milled around the courtyard.

Nguyen’s mother Kim and brother Khoa, both dressed in white suits, arrived in separate silver cars that pulled up in the courtyard outside the cathedral about 20 minutes before the mass began.

The mass is being conducted partly in English and partly in Kim’s first language of Vietnamese.

Dozens of floral tributes were also laid out in the sunshine.

The family has asked that the service be a celebration of the young man’s life, and not a protest against the death penalty.

But many mourners who attended to offer support to Nguyen’s family said they wanted to display their opposition to the death penalty.

Robert Marshall, of Panton Hill, was among them.

“My family has been affected by drugs, and my son died because of drugs, so I am very aware of the scourge of drugs, but I firmly believe Van should not have had his life taken from him,” he told AAP.

“So, I’ve come to show my support just as one of thousands of Australians who I think will turn up today to show their support for the family.”

Sister Carole McDonald, of the Sisters of Mercy, said she attended because she wanted to raise her voice against the death penalty.

“I have worked with Vietnamese refugees in refugee camps overseas,” she said.

“I don’t believe in the death penalty. I think he (Nguyen) made a terrible mistake, but I think capital punishment diminishes us all.”

Nguyen’s coffin was carried to a waiting hearse after the requiem mass which lasted almost two hours, followed by a procession of clergy and his mother Kim, who held a photograph of her son as she was led from the church.

Nguyen’s twin brother Khoa was one of the pallbearers, along with Nguyen’s lawyers Lex Lasry and Julian McMahon.

Nguyen was hanged at Singapore’s Changi Prison last week after he was found carrying 400 grams of heroin at the airport in 2002.

Elm trees outside the Catholic church bore yellow ribbons, tied by Nguyen’s friends as a symbol of the Changi Prison rehabilitation program.

Mourners, many dressed in white, lined the sides of the cathedral and stood six-deep at the back among dozens of memorial candles, and several sat on the steps outside or milled around the courtyard.

Nguyen’s mother Kim and brother Khoa, both dressed in white suits, arrived in separate silver cars that pulled up in the courtyard outside the cathedral about 20 minutes before the mass began.

The mass was conducted partly in English and partly in Kim’s first language of Vietnamese.

Moving last words

A letter written by Nguyen two hours before his hanging was read out during the service.

The text of the letter was also printed in the order of service for his funeral, next to a photograph of himself as a young boy.

In it, he urges mourners for forgiveness and to accept his sincere apologies.

“It is now the eleventh hour. My work here is done now. Pray, may I not have failed you completely and by the Grace of God may you find strength and comfort in these words my heart now speaks to you my brothers and sisters.

“As I lay here listening to the prayers being said for me I take measure of all that has taken place and what is about to be.

“I am returning to the Lord now,” the note reads.

“I shall be looking down on you and shall be in all your hearts. I shall never cease to love you and can only promise I will never leave your side.”

Nguyen urged mourners to not be sorry but instead to celebrate his lifethat “God made possible through his love.”

“These shall be my last words now. But I will see you again. Be of great faith; of greater courage and firm heart.

It is now my time. May God continue to bless you. May His light shine upon you. May He grant you Peace and bring you everlasting life. Amen.

“See you my brothers and sisters.
I love you … and forever will.
Fear not my brothers and sisters. Fear not.”

Mourners slam death penalty

The family has asked that the service be a celebration of the young man’s life, and not a protest against the death penalty.

But many mourners who attended to offer support to Nguyen’s family said they wanted to display their opposition to the death penalty.

Robert Marshall, of Panton Hill, was among them.

“My family has been affected by drugs, and my son died because of drugs, so I am very aware of the scourge of drugs, but I firmly believe Van should not have had his life taken from him,” he told AAP.

“So, I’ve come to show my support just as one of thousands of Australians who I think will turn up today to show their support for the family.”

Sister Carole McDonald, of the Sisters of Mercy, said she attended because she wanted to raise her voice against the death penalty.

“I have worked with Vietnamese refugees in refugee camps overseas,” she said.

“I don’t believe in the death penalty. I think he (Nguyen) made a terrible mistake, but I think capital punishment diminishes us all.”