Pondering on…
May 15, 2010, 12:02 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng

Almost 12 hours have passed and I am still trying to digest what I have witnessed earlier today at the Court of Appeal.

The Court was packed with faces both familiar and not. All were there to hear for themselves what the judgement will be. Some were nervously hoping to see compassion from the judges and some were merely there as neutral observers.

Then there were the journalists. Some were busy taking down notes while others were observing the interactions, body language and facial expressions of those present in the Court room.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong made a solo performance and was backed by two silent figures, Justice V. K Raja and Andrew Phang, who hardly looked up to face those who were present. Well from what I observed anyway. They also made a strange exit. Instead of the usual ‘stand and bow’, all three seemed to be in a rush to get out of their own Courtroom. They stood up, back facing us and made their exit. Pretty awkward, I thought.

And who could forget the lawyer M Ravi? He has been passionately fighting this case on behalf of Yong Vui Kong ever since he took it up. Ravi has been brilliant. I have yet seen a Singaporean lawyer like him, whose passion and fighting spirit seems inexhaustible. He has my utmost respect.

Last but not least, Yong Vui Kong and his family. Vui Kong seemed to be very much at peace with everything. His face showed no fear nor contempt for those who have decided to dismiss his appeal. When he was brought into the Courtroom, he put his palms together and bowed humbly towards the direction of his siblings sitting at the gallery and towards his lawyer M Ravi. He smiled calmly when he was spoken to and he waved at his siblings just before he was taken away again when Court was adjourned. He is so young but yet looked as if he has matured beyond his years. He faces a terrible fate but yet took it bravely.

His siblings, those who were present and those who remained in Sabah, have been really brave for him too. I saw an unexplainable sense of sadness in the eyes of his two brothers who were there. The lines on their faces have deepened since I last saw them. His younger sister who was not present today, has been doing alot of praying and hoping back home in Sabah. My heart truly goes out to Vui Kong and his family. The past 3 years have not been easy for them.

As I was witnessing the whole thing, I wanted to scream at the two silent men, daring them to look right into our eyes (especially the eyes of Vui Kong). I wanted to put up my hands several times to tell CJ Chan Sek Keong my thoughts about what he was saying. I wondered how they manage to sleep at night. I wondered the same thing about the representatives from the AG Chambers too. Do they honestly agree with the mandatory death penalty and the death penalty at all?

What do they mean by saying that the mandatory death penalty is constitutional? State murder is murder in my opinion, and is NEVER constitutional.

What do they mean when they declared that the mandatory death penalty is not law and that it becomes a parliamentary issue not to be further challenged in the Court? If that is really the case, instead of carrying out the hearing of cases involving the mandatory death penalty in the Court, they might as well do it in Parliament.

Surely the Court must have some position in the discussion and decision making process. What I heard today astonished me to a great deal and I wonder if the judges received pressure from what the Law Minister said recently. If so, then is it true that the Court is truly independent? I surely hope so.

Anyway, it saddens me deeply that our judiciary remains coldly inhumane. It seemed to me that it is ok for them to remain so because they are merely administrators to carry out what has been written down black and white. No compassion, no considerations of mitigating factors for the marginalised, the misguided ones and the ones who have succumbed to whatever reasons or temptations for them to commit their crimes. Every criminal that appears will just be another figure, just another distant lesser mortal.

Oh hey, I almost forgot… they bothered to take the trouble to reweigh the vegetable matter that Julia Bohl was carrying and discovered that she did not deserve the death penalty afterall. Yes that was compassion… but only in the name of political diplomacy perhaps.


I have always been standing against the death penalty and for that I shall continue to do what I do because I do not wish to see blood splattered all over my citizenship due to state murder and yet do nothing about it. I did not pay taxes so that my country can choose the easy way out by administering state murder ‘on my behalf’ instead of making effort to help a criminal turn over a new leaf.

Yong Vui Kong should not die. He should be given a chance to show his family members that he has become a better person through his ordeal. He should be given a chance to turn over a new leaf outside prison walls and away from the gallows.

Recommended reading:

Side stepping the death penalty

Mandatory death penalty constitutional, says court

Capital punishment in Singapore for drug-related offences

Death Penalty – Are we trading off justice for real deterrence?

Fuzzy Logic on the death penalty


18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

[…] death penalty constitutional, says court – TOC; Judges dismissed Yong’s appeal and Pondering on… – Rachel Zeng; Singapore’s decision to maintain mandatory death penalty for drugs […]

Pingback by Petition for clemency of Yong Vui Kong denied « Jacob 69er

Murder is murder, sanctioned by the state or otherwise. The finality of death should be something all of us, particularly the law makers, ponder on.

Our ministers and MPs have blood on their hands.

Judges have their hands tied but they don’t have the moral courage to make any adverse comments.

Interesting and well-thought out post.

Comment by rogerpoh

Dear Roger,

Indeed, indeed. But do they care about the invisible blood on their hands? They have done more than the death penalty to earn those invisible red stains… I know that the Judges work for them but why can’t there be compassion in law? Especially this, because sending a person to the gallows is a non-reversible thing. There will be no chance for repentance, no chance of anything else at all.

So much for the Yellow Ribbon project. It seems all a farce to me when it is only applicable to *some* ex-convicts.


Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] 16 update: See here for Amnesty International’s Urgent Action appeal. See here for Rachel’s account of the judgement hearing. Mandatory death penalty constitutional, says […]

Pingback by Singapore Court of Appeal upholds State-sanctioned murder of Yong Vui Kong « Jacob 69er

State murder = murder = never constitutional.
If only everyone could see things this way!

Comment by rett

Aye exactly!

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Rachel,you are really good at all..

Comment by Fung

Dear Fung, thank you… 🙂 and so are you. Do stay strong!

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] The Yong Vui Kong case – funny little world: Reserving the right to kill blindly. – Rachel Zeng: Pondering on… – Trapper’s Swamp: Mandatory death penalty ruled constitutional – guanyinmiao’s […]

Pingback by The Singapore Daily » Daily SG: 17 May 2010

I hope Karma police pay Chan Sek Keong, VK Raja, Andrew Phang and their families a visit.

Comment by fievel

I don’t know how they sleep at night.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Indirectly the judiciary has admitted that it is under the control of parliament and it is common knowledge as to who is in control of parliament. So much for all the claims for independence. I wonder what Walter Goon has to say about all this.

Comment by Dead Poet

Dear Dead Poet,

I think he has already washed his hands off such matters. And yes, you echoed my very sentiments.


Comment by rachelabsinthe

Dear Rachel,

Just what can we expect from the previous AG who wrote to the then Law Minister Jayakumar that it’s a crime for some to loiter at the perimeter of a voting centre but not so if it they are within.


It’s so amazing that the Singapore law can be interpreted in such a unique way.

Ever wonder why there are no kangaroos in Singapore Courts and there are no judges in Singapore Zoo?

Wearing T-shirt with picture of kangaroo in the vicinity of a court is a dangerous game in Singapore.


Comment by feedmetothefish


Thanks for the link, I do happen to need that for reference! 😀


Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] Kong case [Recommended] – funny little world: Reserving the right to kill blindly. – Rachel Zeng: Pondering on… – Trapper’s Swamp: Mandatory death penalty ruled constitutional – guanyinmiao’s […]

Pingback by Weekly Roundup: Week 21 « The Singapore Daily

I think everyone is letting their feelings get ahead of them. The courts are tied by the laws laid down by parliament as well as precedence.

As a legally trained person, it is quite obvious that this was going to be the result. I don’t think the court’s integrity should be questioned. Having spoken to some judges personally, most would prefer not to impose the death penalty if given the opportunity.

While I think that we should do away with the mandatory death penalty, I do not agree with your opinion about the court or the judges.

Comment by pmg

Dear PMG,

Good to hear your opinions although I might not fully agree there.

Written above were my personal thoughts and opinions, derived from my personal observations and it is ok with me if anyone seeks to disagree. This is just a humble blog which serves as a place for me to express myself as well as for me to find out more about what others think via discussions.

I am really glad to know that there is another legally trained person who thinks that we should do away with the MDP. One more to add to the list. It is with hope that one day things will change because I am hearing more lawyers saying that MDP should cease to exist. We should not wait for the Parliament to change, people from the ground should initiate the process of change. In this case, lawyers and judges and everyone in the legal profession who believes that we should do away with the MDP, should stand up and speak against it together in whatever ways that all of you see fit (e.g., writing a statement of recommendation or something).

The Parliament is not everything, unless of course, we are North Korea.

One more thing… if the Courts are tied by the laws laid down by Parliament, then why did CJ Chan Sek Keong come out to say earlier this year that the Court is independent? Being tied by higher powers just doesn’t show the independence of the Courts that he was talking about then. What do you think?

This is what I personally believe in. Feel free to enlighten me with your opinions though, I am here to learn. 🙂


Comment by rachelabsinthe

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