Give Vui Kong a Second Chance
August 2, 2010, 3:10 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

Photo credit: Han Thon

Despite the drizzle, about 150 people turned up for the event at Speakers’ Corner today jointly organised by The Online Citizen (TOC) and Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC).

The crowd was made up of activists, members of the various NGOs, opposition politicians, journalists as well as some concerned members of the public from all walks of life. Plain clothes police were spotted trying unsuccessfully to blend in with the crowd. I would personally like to thank them for turning up despite the rain, to “keep us safe”. Participants need not worry about their presence because they were just there to check on the organisers.

During the event, M Ravi who is the legal representative of Yong Vui Kong and a fellow member of SADPC, talked about his journey as a lawyer for death row inmates from the past to the present. He also shared with us Vui Kong’s reaction towards the group photo taken last December  (“Vui Kong, We Care“).

According to Ravi, Vui Kong felt very encouraged after being shown the photo. He asked Ravi for the names of each and everyone of us in the photo and made it a point to write the names down. He also wrote each of us a letter but due to prison regulations, he was not able to send them to us. I was really touched upon hearing that…

Besides Ravi, Andrew Loh who is the editor of TOC, also made a speech. In his speech, Andrew said that this event was not about the death penalty, what Vui Kong had done or whether drug trafficking deserves the death penalty or otherwise. This event was about mercy, compassion and second chances. This event was about mercy in spite of what Vui Kong had done.

Some belongings of Vui Kong were also brought to the event. They were brought back from Ravi’s visit to Sabah about two weeks ago. Together with Lynn from Lianain Films, they found some belongings of Vui Kong and his siblings, kept with care by Vui Kong’s mother. The belongings ranged from a pair of shorts worn when Vui Kong was 2, to his books and school uniform used and worn when he was in Primary 4.

You can read more about Ravi’s visit to Sabah here.

After the speeches were made, most of us proceeded to take a group photo holding cards saying “Give Yong Vui Kong a 2nd chance”. The cards were designed by Vui Kong’s younger sister, who has also been working actively in Sabah to generate awareness about her brother’s case.

We have also managed to gather 139 signatures for the petition as many who attended came forward to sign it the first thing they arrived.

Thank you everyone for your attendance and support, we will continue to work towards keeping Vui Kong alive and we hope that his case will also help us move towards the abolishment of the mandatory death penalty, if not the death penalty as a whole.

(More photos will be uploaded soon)


Read also: There must be room for mercy

Sign the petition here.

Participate in the Anti-Mandatory Death Penalty Project here.

21 Comments so far
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May I asked who will give those victims that Vui Kong’s greed and evilness had caused, a second chance?

Stop your hypocrisy, will you Rachel? I can only curse that one of your dear family members or loved one will end up as drug addicts, than perhaps you can also see the other side of the pain, and let’s see whether you will still continue with your most sickening hypocrisy!

If there’s a referendum on MDP, I am sure that rational and upright majority will still vote for it!

Comment by Eng Guan

Dear Eng Guan,

How is there hypocrisy? I have personally seen people close to me taking the path of drug abuse but would not like to elaborate.

What makes you think that those ‘victims’ of drug abuse are not given a chance? They are given many chances. Some stop while other choose to continue abusing drugs.

Vui Kong was not evil. He was naive and all he wanted was to earn some money so that his mother could have a better life. He did not know the harmfulness of the substances he was carrying til he was arrested and had the seriousness of his crime explained to him. He did not grow up in a city like you and I where information and education is sophisticated and readily available. He was and still is, a victim of poverty.

Now, people willingly contribute towards donating to third world countries. They pity the fact that children from such countries will suffer from impoverishment and the lack of education.

But how many looks across the Causeway or in our very own backyard, and lend a helping hand to those who were and are still living in third world conditions in a first world country? Isn’t that hypocrisy?

And comeon, who do you think the drugs are for? Only those who are poor and desperate for a quick fix? Nope. The cream of our society, the elites, have their drug parties often. Why not blame them too for they are known very well to be contributing to the demand of drugs here.

And Eng Guan, you call Yong evil. Yet it does not seem evil for you to curse.

I think you should perhaps flush the talk about hypocrisy down the toilet and take a good look at what is happening beyond the surface of our very own society.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] Give Vui Kong A Second Chance – Rachel Zeng […]

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[…] We are against capital punishment – TOC: There must be room for mercy – Rachel Zeng: Give Vui Kong a Second Chance […]

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[…] 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm (Let's Not be Naive) The shrewd observer would sense that the picture by those opposing the death penalty is not painted well. Firstly, those against capital punishment say that it is an inhumane […]

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Just to dispute your claim that Vui Kong was innocent…he was not! He had been trafficking heroin many times before he was finally caught (thank god!). How sure were you in claiming that he do not know what he was carrying and trafficking? How sure are you wih his claims that he wanted to earn money for his mother, when in fact, it was to satisfy his own greed and his lifestyle of crime?

I agreed with Eng Guan above that you are misleading people right from the start, for whatever agenda or purposes known only to yourself.

Anyway, care to dispute and refute the below statements made by MOL in your claim that Vui Kong is unware of what he is doing?

Evidence was led in Court to show that Mr Yong has trafficked in heroin on other previous occasions, before he was arrested on 13 June 2007. In addition, on the day he was arrested, he had already made two drug deliveries to customers. Questioned by police, he exonerated the friend who drove him to the delivery venues. The High Court found that he knew, (beyond reasonable doubt), what he was doing. He was trafficking a large amount of heroin (in excess of 47 grams) and had been doing it regularly for profit.

Comment by Mavis Seet

Feel free to dispute but I am not saying that he was totally innocent. Being naive and being innocent are two rather different things.

He had been trafficking heroin ‘many times before’ so claimed by MOL. So they should show us the evidence.

Yong was naive. He made a huge mistake indeed, a crime. We are not disputing that. However the intentions were just so to provide his mother a better life and he did not know how else to. He tried to work in the kitchens of the restaurants in KL but because he was East Malaysian, he was discriminated against and was paid very little. Eventually he was picked up by a ‘big brother’ who showered him with gifts and a better pay. At such a young age and being a country bumpkin that he was, he made the wrong choice of thinking that was good.

He was being made used of. He thought that heroin was like tobacco and did not know what sort of harm it could bring to society. Maybe he could have found out but blinded by all the ‘kindness’ showered upon him, he didn’t.

Here we are, trying to tell you a story of a boy who became a criminal at the age of 18 and there you are insisting that he had evil intentions. Well feel free to, we are all entitled to our opinions.

However to blame the cause of drug abuse entirely to one drug mule rather than going after the head of the syndicate shows that we prefer shortcuts. That is not justice. Blaming the problem of drug abuse on drug mules who came in instead of looking into how we bring our children up shows that we choose to shake off all responsibility. This is my personal opinion.

My personal cause is to continue advocating for the total abolishment of the death penalty for all crimes. There are many types of punishment and sentencing one to death is irreversible. The person will not be able to show that he has repented, he will not be able to be given another chance to contribute well to society.

We can choose to punish a criminal with compassion. Rehabilitate him in prison or remand centre for a period of time. Fill him with education, give him another chance. Make him an ambassador to reach out to those who faces a similar fate of being made used as a drug mule. Give him another chance to educate himself and be beside his mother who loves him dear.

If we can let Julia Bohl get off the noose that way because of diplomatic reasons, why can’t we give Yong a chance in the name of compassion? I am not saying that he should not be punished. I am saying that we can look into other methods of punishment. If we stick to the old age method all the time, how are we to progress?

Honestly if you really think that he and the rest of the drug mules/ death row inmates deserves to die, then perhaps you should volunteer to spend a week reprimanding him, telling him how you think he deserves to die, and hang him yourself.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

We are against capital punishment,but may the Authorities should appoint another lawyer besides, M Ravi only makes the case more serious with his prejudice against the law’s of singapore.There is no sense of integrity of M Ravi handling this case,the case has not been tackled with a professional characteristic manner.

Comment by DAVID CALEB

M Ravi was appointed by Yong Vui Kong and his family. Why must the state have a say in every single thing down to the personal choice of legal counsel? What are we, North Korea?

M Ravi is a very passionate lawyer and he is doing all of that because he believes strongly in what he does. Which other lawyers will put in so much effort doing what is beyond what a normal lawyer in Singapore lawyer will do, the way Ravi is doing? He is also doing this Pro Bono.

Without M Ravi, will Yong still be sitting in his cell, studying Mandarin and English now?

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Good on you, Rachel. I do agree there is a lot of hypocrisy in this country. We call-in and donate to snazzy shows by NKF and Comm Chest and then label ourselves as sympathetic and generous, yet we look away from the downtrodden and poor in our very own backyard when we see them selling tissues and picking cardboard.

And to Eng Guan, let’s see if you can live up to your sense of ‘integrity’ and ‘justice’ if one of your friends/relatives/loved ones is going to face the hangman too. Everyone deserves a second chance, especially if they face having their lives taken away from them.

Comment by Adrian

Five years ago, we covered the Nguyen Van case and asked for mercy. We, again, plea for mercy in this case…

The Nguyen Tuong Van Case: When Mercy Seasons Justice

By J. Fairbank

It seems as if Shakespeare himself was addressing the Nguyen Tuong Van case in this oft-quoted and oft-unheeded passage from The Merchant of Venice.

Singaporean government officials are among the most well-educated people in the world. I hope they find the time and inclination to dwell upon the passage below:

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown. His scepter shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. But mercy is above this sceptered sway; It is enthroned in the hearts of kings; It is an attribute of God himself; And earthly power doth then show like God’s when mercy seasons justice.”

Comment by Jonathan Fairbank

Hi Rachael, i am appalled with the fact that people like you and Ravi take so much time and effort on this Mandatory Death Penalty Issue, but lets be realistic here…

Vui Kong has committed a serious crime with knowledge of the repercussions he has to face, he also admits that this is not his first time trafficking drugs…now that obvious makes him a criminal…

His mitigating factors about his mother’s medical condition and that he did it for money for his family’s sake will not move the court to change the decision in putting him on the death row.

His offense is quantifiable, more than 15mgs of heroin ensures you a ticket to the gallows…my question is did they come up with the final count of pure heroin after the lab process, this process can actually be repeated a few times to determine the final heroin content

The only reason that presently they have put an hold on his execution is because of the fact , Ravi pointed out certain matters in court about the clemency process and judicial reviews thanks to the stupidity of someone mentioned Yong’s judgement even before the clemency… Well, obviously Ravi did his homework and the court in all its Honor claimed that its constitutional and needs to be reviewed….

Let me tell you, this they will review the policy and still claim that its necessary for the mandatory death penalty and at the end of the day Vui Kong will be still be hanged.

All of us know that they will never change this Mandatory death sentence to a liable death sentence based on evidence and mitigation no matter how long they take to review this policy….

Sentencing has been done and we know for a fact that clemency will not be given on these mitigating factors…a sad but true fact, If somehow, Vui Kong Escapes the gallows, i would be happy for his family and hope he changes his ways after serving his sentence, for tracfficing cannot be condoned in this country.

Rach, you have done well in your pursuit but you know deep within the end results of this saga


Comment by Messiah

Dear Messiah,

“Vui Kong has committed a serious crime with knowledge of the repercussions he has to face, he also admits that this is not his first time trafficking drugs…now that obvious makes him a criminal…”

According to his lawyers and brothers, he did not know that bringing drugs into Singapore is going to kill him. He frankly told everyone that according to his “Big boss”, all he needed to do was to give the police officers some money as a fine. He was even given the money by the “Big Boss”. Being naive as he was, he was shocked to learn that bringing drugs into the country is such a serious crime.

“Sentencing has been done and we know for a fact that clemency will not be given on these mitigating factors…a sad but true fact, If somehow, Vui Kong Escapes the gallows, i would be happy for his family and hope he changes his ways after serving his sentence, for tracfficing cannot be condoned in this country.”

Yes very sad indeed, I can’t stop thinking about the huge possibility of them just ignoring the petitions, letters and campaign efforts.

There are flaws in the systems of this country and no matter how arrogantly the government refuses to acknowledge this and to progressively think of changing the systems, we will continue our campaigning efforts. Should we just resign to the fact that they won’t change and stop doing anything altogether?

My personal answer is no.

This is not easy but if we give up just like this, the ‘battle’ is lost.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Hi Rachael,

The whole world knows Singapore has a mandate against drug trafficking…its a serious offense and can you imagine the plight of the family members of drug addicts…its just as bad or even worst than Vui Kong’s family problems…Vui Kong’s “Big Boss and Big Brother” associations obviously shows that he is involved in some gangland activities, so i doubt he was naive..

Every inmate on death row has a sad story about his family, however it doesn’t justify the nature of crime…it just doesn’t work as mitigating factors

I hope and pray that this boy is given a chance to live…he is young and i believe with suitable rehabilitation programmes youths like him deserve a chance to repent and live

Though i seriously doubt the fact that a judiciary review will change anything, i really hope that all efforts of yours and the others will make a difference one day

If Singapore gave him a chance to live , i will certainly salute the government on being merciful and compassionate towards a young man…maybe its just my wishful thinking

So any news from Vui Kong’s Big Boss? The Big Boss is the biggest culprit here and he is the one who deserves to be hanged…Did Vui Kong identify his boss and whats is Sabah’s Govt going to do about it, how many more youths are going to be exploited as drug mules…

I sincerely hope the youths of Singapore learn a lesson or two from this whole saga..

Comment by Messiah

Mr Ravi,You have proven your mettle “by borrowing the east wind” with the words Daft K utter at joochiat.well done!
Vui kong was charged trafficking 47g of heroin.what was the actual weight when he was it 500g or more?what is the amount to be collect from the “guy from singapore”?This guy is no fool.

Comment by is it

S’pore must defend integrity of institutions of justice & law enforcement: DPM Wong

‘He added: “We must robustly defend the integrity of our institutions of justice and law enforcement when anyone maliciously attacks and undermines the public confidence and trust which have been earned over the years.

“If we do not do so and allow vicious falsehoods to perversely masquerade itself as the truth, we will eventually lose our moral authority and with it, our effectiveness to achieve our mission to keep Singapore safe and secure. ‘
I wonder if WKS is liable for Comtempt of Court since he put the case on media trial and had already concluded the case for the honourable judge. Despite hiding behind a veil of words, the inherent tendency test that was used on Alan Shadrake in the same way is enough to have hulled before the judge.

M.Ravi should complain this matter to court, ask for an order for WKS to be presented or better still, someone with iron balls file a police report on WKS for spurting rubbish.

Comment by Your Learned Friend

Yong Vui Kong is just collateral damage.

If Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson got caught selling 47 tons of heroin in Singapore, you think he would be given the death sentence?

Everyone knows that Singapore’s tough laws serve one and only one purpose: to keep the Lee family in power. Say you go to CPIB with evidence of Kwa Geok Choo’s nephew taking bribes, the next thing you know, your home is suddenly raided by the police and 47g of heroin appears out of nowhere in your toilet tank. Then a month later your mother is at Orchard Road begging pedestrians to sign a petition for your clemency.

In order to hang you for a crime you did not commit and not raise questions, they need to regularly hang small-time drug mules like Yong Vui Kong to make your hanging look like a routine thing.

Comment by music

[…] are against capital punishment – TOC: There must be room for mercy – Rachel Zeng: Give Vui Kong a Second Chance – Chemical Generation Singapore: Wrestling with the Death Penalty – funny little world: Taking a […]

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I pity the poor boy and his family.

But, laws are laws, and Singapore has always been known for hanging drug traffickers and murderers and kidnappers. This is heavily ‘advertised’ in the international media, in movies, on the plane to Singapore etc etc. Surely this would be a deterrent, yet people want to take their chances, and if caught, surely we can’t expect the Singapore govt to say ‘It’s ok, the law is just to frighten people. We don’t actually hang anyone. Go on, keep murdering/kidnapping/trafficking drugs.’

Truth be told, I have little compassion for drug traffickers, whatever excuse they give (‘Someone pushed a parcel in my hands and asked me to bring to Singapore’. D’uh, how old are you? 10?). How many lives are ruined due to drugs? How many families broken, how many hearts broken because of drugs? How many robberies committed just so people can get a fix? A recent case in Malaysia had an addict splash acid on his wife and son (his family!) just because they wouldn’t give him money to buy drugs.

And, what do I hear here? Vui King should be pardoned as he is innocent (come on, he’s probably more street wise than me), cos he wants to give his mum a better life (at the expense of others?). I think it is all a load of crap. There are always reasons why people traffic drugs, but, ultimately, it is only harm it does.

Comment by Gerald

i pray and hope that this boy is given a second chance.Youth like him deserves the chance to repent

Comment by Tye Chee Chong

[…] Rachel Zeng blogs about the event here. […]

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