Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Chan, Andrew (1984–2015)

by Harriet Veitch

In April 2005, nine Australians were arrested in Denpasar, Indonesia, on drug charges. Of the nine, four were at the airport with heroin packs taped to their bodies, three were in an hotel in possession of about 300 grams of heroin, and two, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were arrested in relation to the other seven.

The following year, Chan was convicted in the Denpasar District Court, "of conspiring to import more than eight kilograms of heroin from Bali into Australia" and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Andrew Chan was born in Sydney on January 12, 1984, the youngest child of Ken and Helen Chan, migrants from China who married in Sydney and made a living running restaurants. Andrew grew up in in Enfield and went to Homebush Boys High School, where he was considered a trickster and a joker, but also a bully.

He left school in year 10 and got a job with a catering company, but later admitted that he didn't really know where he was going in life and was taking drugs.

Soon he was smuggling drugs into Australia, and is said to have enlisted a number of teenagers, many of whom were also arrested as part of the Bali nine.

By April 2005, Chan had already made one successful smuggling trip out of Bali to Australia, and one which had failed. In April he was the organiser: there were prepaid SIM cards, secret codes and money for air tickets along with baggy shirts to cover the drug packages.

What he didn't know was that the Australian Federal Police had already written to the Bali police about the group, whose members were arrested.

Chan told the police that he knew the others but nothing about drugs. At another interview, two weeks later, he claimed that he'd seen Sukumaran taping some packages, sprinkled with pepper to put off sniffer dogs, to other members but wasn't involved.

In court, Chan again claimed innocence: "The truth is, I know nothing." Each member of the Bali nine had a separate trial and all were found guilty, with seven given long sentences. Chan and Sukumaran​, however, were sentenced to death. In April 2006, Chan's appeal against the death sentence was rejected by the Bali High Court.

In Kerobokan prison on Bali, Chan converted to Christianity, ran drug counselling courses, visited sick inmates and conducted an English language church service. He and Sukumaran​ used their supporters to obtain food, medical supplies and money for other prisoners. The prison governor, Sudjonggo​, described them as model prisoners who should not be executed.

In August 2010 lawyers for Chan lodged judicial review requests of the death sentence but this was also rejected. In June 2011, the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected Chan's appeal against his death sentence.

In 2012, Chan met Febyanti Herewila​, a fellow pastor who was also helping prisoners in Kerobokan. Chan proposed in January 2015, just after the newly elected Indonesian president, Joko Widodo​, also rejected Chan's plea for clemency.

Speaking of the effect on his family following the rejection, Chan said, "It is like stabbing your own mother and father in the heart and ripping out that knife and watching them bleed to death."

In February 2015, in the Kerobokan Prison chapel, Chan was ordained as a Christian minister. In March, Chan and Sukumaran​ were moved from Kerobokan Prison and flown to the prison island of Nusakambangan​. Further appeals were also rejected by the courts.

Chan and Feby​, as she is known, were married in the Nusakambangan​ Prison chapel just after Chan received formal notification of his execution.

Andrew Chan is survived by Febyanti, parents Ken and Helen and his siblings.

Original publication

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 2015

Additional Resources

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Harriet Veitch, 'Chan, Andrew (1984–2015)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/chan-andrew-20234/text31289, accessed 13 November 2019.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2019