[UPDATED] Save Malaysian on death row in Singapore

[UPDATED with two advocacy links on Yong Vui Kong]

On Friday the 14 May 2010, the Chief Justice of Singapore ruled that Yong Vui Kong, a 22-year-old Malaysian from Sabah, be hanged. M. Ravi, a human rights lawyer in Singapore has issued this press statement to appeal to Malaysia to help make clear to the Singapore government that Malaysia will not tolerate the execution of a young Malaysian in this case because he has been denied an opportunity to persuade the President to grant the clemency.

An anti death penalty campaign flyer

SADP campaign flyer (Image provided by LB) Source: jacob69.wordpress.com

On Friday the 14 May 2010, Mr Chan Sek Keong, the Chief Justice of Singapore, ruled that Yong Vui Kong, a 22 year-old Malaysian from the state of Sabah, be hanged. My task is not an easy one. By Article 22(p) of the Singapore Constitution, such a petition is submitted to the President who makes his decision on the clemency.

We now know, thanks to an astounding revelation made by the Attorney-General in the course of his arguments in this case, that “although in theory it’s the President who exercises the prerogative of mercy, it is the Cabinet who makes the decision.” What is so startling about this disclosure is that Article 22(p) of the Constitution clearly states that:

…such sentence has been confirmed by the appellate court, the President shall cause the reports which are made to him by the Judge who tried the case and the Chief Justice or other presiding Judge of the appellate court to be forwarded to the Attorney-General with instructions that, after the Attorney-General has given his opinion thereon, the reports shall be sent, together with the Attorney-General’s opinion, to the Cabinet so that the Cabinet may advise the President on the exercise of the power conferred on him by clause (1).

Just to recap, my client was ordered to be hung on 14th May 2010. He has a right to seek clemency. The President has the right to commute his sentence. The President’s decision is made according to Article 22(p) of the Constitution. The most Senior Law Officer of the State is on record as saying that it is the Cabinet that makes the decision. You might think that nothing can be much worse that that. The Attorney-General himself enunciates a distortion of the Constitution. You would be wrong, it gets worse, far worse, just a few days before the Court of Appeal was to hand down its decision, none other than the Law Minister, a key member of the Cabinet made a public statement to a question by a Constituent that: ”

Yong Vui Kong (who was sentenced to hang for trafficking 47g of Heroin), he is young. But if we say we let you go, what’s the signal we’re sending? We’re sending a signal to all drug barons out there … just make sure you choose a victim who’s young or a mother of a young child and use them as the people to carry drugs into Singapore. With the sympathy generated after these people are caught he added, there will be a whole unstoppable stream of people coming through as long as we won’t enforce our laws.

Now you understand why I need your help. We all know that drug trafficking attracts the mandatory death sentence in Singapore and Malaysia. That is not an issue here. What we have thought is that after you have been sentenced to death by the Court you could try to persuade the President to commute your sentence. What we now know is that the President does not decide the petition, the Cabinet decides it. And in Yong Vui Kong’s case, the senior Cabinet minister has said he should hang even before he has presented his petition. Now that we know that the Cabinet makes the decision and now we know that at least from a key member of the Cabinet why the clemency process has been tainted with biasness and is rendered ineffective.

The reason I have come to Malaysia is to ask for your help in making clear to the Singapore government that you will not tolerate the execution of a young Malaysian boy in this case because he has been denied an opportunity to persuade the President to grant the clemency. He cannot even look for a real decision by the President but only by Cabinet. But Cabinet has already spoken and said no. This offends the rules of natural justice, due process, and the Constitution which itself grants the right to seek clemency from the President.

What I would like this young man’s country to do is to exercise its sovereign powers on behalf of its own national who is being denied elemental fairness. As a sovereign state, Malaysia has to invoke the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a determination whether the conduct of Singapore constitutes a violation of local and international law and seek a judgment thereupon. This is the least that Malaysia can do for one of its national who is about to be treated unlawfully at the hands of the Singapore state. Malaysia must act swiftly on behalf of its national who is about to be killed.

9th June 2010

M. Ravi
Human Rights Lawyer


[UPDATED on 9 July 2010]

LB: Check out these links:

Save Vui Kong

Malaysians Stand Up for Yong!

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9 Responses to [UPDATED] Save Malaysian on death row in Singapore

  1. Raffles Rubgy

    Stay away from drugs. Nobody pointed a gun at him to traffick illegal drugs. Who's to blame? A country's law is here to be obeyed. Raffles Rugby.

  2. Boboi

    I'm Malaysian… and please just hang that garbage, worthless to his country.

  3. AgreeToDisagree

    It's the people one is around, that one comes into contact with that influence a person into whatever they become. He's young enough that those around him have caused him to act this way before he had a proper environment to grow up naturally or to develop a good personality in. Doesn't the government have some kind of programme for people like this? Drugs, especially organic drugs should be legalized.

  4. Unthuged

    Hang him. I am outraged by the amount of support a CONVICTED CRIMINAL is getting. Malaysian's are a senseless emotional lot. Respect Singapore's law and don't fuck with drugs. Doesn't matter if you turn into Buddha, you're going to pay for your crime.

  5. lksx

    I am a Malaysian. for me, once somebody trafficking drug, he is eligible to be punished.

    this is bad where you promotes young people to make wrongdoings. this kind of thinking promotes that young people will be pardoned later for any wrong doing because "they are young".

    This young people could be considered as adult. Adult that already passes childhood phase. If he is a child, the case could be considered as juvenile.

    I support death penalty, because the "death" penalty itself shows how big is that crime. People never learns when there is no serious effect.

    Beware, anything that involves illegal drug is serious crime.

  6. Zarul Wong

    This is all fine and well, but was the trial where he was found guilty flawed in terms of procedure? What was the basis of the petition for clemency apart from the mitigating factor that he was "young" at twenty two years old, and a general emotional plea?

    If this is the basis of Yong Vui Kong's appeal, then every single person ever sentenced for any criminal charge would make the same plea.

    How can Mr. Ravi claim that Vui Kong is being treated unlawfully when he is serving his sentence handed down in a lawful criminal proceeding?

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not being heartless here, but he WAS proven guilty in court for drug trafficking, was he not?

  7. dhb

    you malaysians are bullshit. u yourself have the death penalty for drug trafficking and you are appealing for a drug trafficker.

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