Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yong Vui Kong's Journey

Yong Vui Kong's Journey
An account of Yong Vui Kong's life

Vui Fung, Vui Kong, Ah Lun, Yun Leong with their mother

Yong Vui Kong, born to a family of 6, went through a turbulent childhood when his parents divorced while he was very young. As a result his mother had to raise the kids singlehandedly. 

Being a dishwasher she brought home RM$200 a month, and the family had to scrap by at the most basic sustenance level. 

Eventually this paved the way for Vui Kong's departure from their hometown of Sabah, East Malaysia to the big city of Kuala Lumpur. 

 Vui Kong with brothers during happier days

In 2002, Vui Kong the country boy left Sabah for KL, bringing nothing but him and the desire to make it big. 

A young and rebellious Vui Kong

He was described by his family as "rebellious", often mixing with bad company and getting into trouble. Yet, Vui Kong would be the apple in his mother's eyes. He treated his siblings well, especially Vui Fung who would often relate how much Vui Kong doted on her, even though he would sometimes throw his temper at home when things were not going well for him. 

Vui Fung (Fung Fung) with Vui Kong 

But all these was not meant to last. 

Vui Kong worked as a kitchen hand in KL, but was later introduced to a gang, whose boss showered him with 5 star hotel stays and treated him to meals he could never be able to afford. 

Vui Kong mixed with the wrong company, which eventually sealed his fate

Eventually Vui Kong went from debt collecting to "delivering gifts". These gifts turned out to be drugs. At that young and impressionable age, Vui Kong had no idea that the penalty for trafficking of drug was mandatory death. 

The "gifts" that Vui Kong delivered to Singapore

At 18, Yong Vui Kong was conscripted for National Service. He would later return to KL back to the same boss who provided him with work and lead him on to be a drug runner. 

Vui Kong would later shuttle back and forth Singapore and Malaysia several times until he was caught in June 2007 with possession of 47g of heroin. Yong was 18 and a half years old at the time of arrest. Singapore drug laws stipulate mandatory death for 18 years and above. Vui Kong faced certain death the moment he was caught by narcotics officers. 

Vui Kong, represented by state-assigned counsel Kelvin Lim, was trialed in Singapore High Court. 

Justice Choo Han Teck found Vui Kong too young to be dealt with the mandatory death sentence

Before passing the judgement, trial judge Justice Choo Han Teck summoned both the defence and presecution into chamber and asked the prosecution if they would consider reducing the charge given the relatively young age of the drug offender, who was not even 19 at the age of the offence. The prosecution declined and the death sentence was handed to Vui Kong.

Yong's then defence counsel, following the common practice for almost all capital cases for drug trafficking, was preparing to take the case to the Court of Appeal. 

Kelvin Lim, under specific instruction from his client, withdrew the Appeal.

Changi Prison customary photo taking session before execution

At this point in time, Vui Kong's sister, Fung Fung, had already bought a shirt and pants for her brother. It is customary for prisoners on death row to don on their best in a bizzare and morbid prison practice - photos of the prisoner in various poses will be shot and the pictures will be sent to the convict's family after the execution.

"I don't want to lie to save myself."

Vui Kong instructed his lawyer to withdraw the appeal

Why did Vui Kong withdraw the appeal?

Apparently, he was under the impression that a High Court Appeal could only work if there are new evidence to prove that he was innocent of the charge, and he thought that the only way out was to lie to be able to save himself. 

After taking up Buddhism as his religion while in prison, Vui Kong did not want to lie which was a sin according to Buddhist beliefs, he therefore instructed his counsel to withdraw the Appeal. 

Vui Kong did not know that he involuntarily extended his stay in this world by withdrawing his own High Court Appeal, the only legal lifeline available to him.

Because of this withdrawal, the high Court hastened the execution process and ordered Yong to be executed on 4th December 2009.

M. Ravi intervenes

M. Ravi holding a picture of a Buddha like figure drawn by Yong while in prison

Singapore human rights lawyer Madasamy Ravi got wind of Yong's case. He promptly took over the case from Yong's counsel Kelvin Lim after a court hearing.

Ravi submitted a clemency appeal to the Singapore President, but on 20th November, it was rejected by the Istana.

Yong was granted a rare last minute stay of execution

Two days before Yong's scheduled execution, Ravi made an application for a stay of execution for Vui Kong pending a High Court hearing for an appeal. The Court of Appeal had previously not heard Vui Kong's case as his defence lawyer had withdrawn it.

Vui Kong broke down in court when he heard his execution on Friday was stayed

 The judge decided that he was not in the position to make the decision for the Court of Appeal, granted the stay of execution for Vui Kong. Vui Kong, who was present in court, broke down and cried when he heard the news.

Vui Kong Finally meet his mother after two years of incarceration

A day after the court's decision, Yong met his mother, who came to Singapore accompanied by his siblings. Upon seeing his mother, Yong knelt and bowed to her three times in a show of respect. 

Vui Kong's mother still does not know that her son had been sentenced to death.

For fear that she may commit suicide due to suffering from chronic depression, Vui Kong's family had kept his fate away from her. The only idea she has of why her son is in jail is that "he had committed a very serious matter and that he will be gone for a very long time in order to atone for his sins and will not return unless he has attained self fulfillment". 

On 8th December, Vui Kong received a 2nd stay of execution, this time from the Court of Appeal. The stay of execution was in effect until the Appeal was presented and debated in court. The court gave the defence much needed time to prepare the case, and activists more time to campaign for it. 

Yong outlived his original death sentence for a full 4 months. This was something he never saw coming on the eve of his execution.

Campaigns to save Vui Kong

Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign flyer

Ravi, in the months after the court's decision to grant the stay of execution, set off to do his research, pro bono. He engaged the help of Queen's counsels in London, dug up the various developments in other Commonwealth countries on the mandatory death penalty and at the end compiled an appeal submission 5 volumes thick. 

London team of lawyers who provided valuable research and help: Parvais Jabbar, Edward Fitzgerald QC, M. Ravi and Saul Lehrfreund

On 15th March the high Court convened for Vui Kong's appeal. After both sides presented their cases and arguments, the judges praised M. Ravi for the effort he had put into his submission and thanked him for providing the court with an update on current international practices with regards to the death penalty. They decided to reserve judgement on the hearing until further notice. (credits to TOC)

"The court acknowledge that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment," - Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong

On 14th May, the Court of Appeal duly rejected the appeal. But it acknowledged that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment. 

In June, Vui Kong's counsel M. Ravi made a trip down to KL in an attempt to rally the Malaysians together over the case. 

There was a buzz initially when the Malaysian online media carried Vui Kong's story, but it fizzled out after a week or two. 

Umi Azlim, the Malaysian girl sentenced to death for drug trafficking

In 2007, Umi Azlim was sentenced to death in China. Curiously, she had a sentence commuted to life imprisonment after the Malaysian government appeal to the Chinese government citing compassionate grounds. 

Vui Kong received no such attention from the Malaysian government.

No Political Mileage 

"Probably because he presents no political mileage. He is first of all a (Malaysian) Chinese, and a Sabahan." 

But the Malaysian media had their ways. many online media outlets, especially MalaysiaKini, ran a media blitz over Vui Kong's case and nudge the Malaysian government to do something to help the boy who was facing the gallows overseas. 

Ravi with MP Tian Chua and Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (Photo: TOC)

But all was not lost. On 3rd July it was announced that PKR's MP Tian Chua would table a debate on Vui Kong's case in Parliament the following Monday. It was rejected by the Speaker of Parliament, but a press conference was held and Malaysia's Foreign Minister was present. 

 "After all, I am a Sabahan too” - Malaysia's FM Anifah Aman pledged to assist in Yong's case

He told Ravi and the Malaysian press, “All things aside, if I save one life it will give me great satisfaction. After all, I am a Sabahan too”, referring to the Malaysian state where Yong comes from. (Credit: TOC)

After his statement, almost all media outlets in Malaysia carried the news. 

Malaysian activists promptly got to work to set up a site, 2ndChance4Yong, to campaign for Vui Kong.

For the first time, Yong did not just have to rely on Singapore, he had the support of the people from his country as well. 

 Give Life 2nd Chance

The campaign for Vui Kong, Give Life 2nd Chance, was launched and the petition gathered over 3000 signatures in a few days. The campaign also rallied Malaysian Parliamentarians together to show support for a President clemency to spare Yong's life based on compassionate ground. 

Ngeow Chow Ying, Syed Husin and Tunku Abdul Aziz

Malaysians brought it a step further. On 21 July, Malaysian lawyer and campaign coordinator Ngeow Chow Ying, together with Dewan Negara senators, came together for a press conference to plea for clemency for Vui Kong and rally Malaysians' support.

She said, "We understand Singapore, like Malaysia, has a strict policy against drug trafficking which carries a mandatory death penalty. However, given that the constitution allows clemency plea for persons sentenced to death means that no sentence of capital punishment is by default excluded from reconsideration for a second chance."

Soon after, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman wrote to Singapore President S.R. Nathan, requesting clemency on compassionate grounds. The President did not reply to the letter.

Give Vui Kong a Second Chance

Increasingly, Singaporeans were getting aware that judicial hangings for drug trafficking were done in the name of the people. On Aug 2, more than 150 people turned up at Speakers’ Corner to support the petition for clemency for Yong Vui Kong.

The family had to walk to the back of the Istana to submit the clemency petition 

The Save Vui Kong campaign saw more than 109 346 signatures collected over the span of more than a month. These signatures together with a formal clemency petition, were submitted to the President at the Istana on 24 Aug 2010.

 The family, together with Sabah Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui, faced curt security officers who merely took the piles of signatures and repeatedly told them to leave. Deflated, disappointed and anxious, the family walked back in tears.

Protest outside S'pore High Commission

Yong’s original deadline for filing his Petition for Clemency to the President was 26 August. It was feared that he would be hanged soon after that deadlineIn the face of imminent execution of Vui Kong, Malaysian lawyers and parliamentarians rallied together and protested outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on 26 August. 

One of the lawyers and Malaysian Member of Parliament, S. Manickavasagam said if Yong Vui Kong is hung, they will come in a big group and bring a coffin box to be placed in front of the High Commission. 

Another stay of execution for Vui Kong, left

The Singapore Prisons Department in a letter dated 25 Aug 2010 replied Yong's lawyer M. Ravi that he would be granted an extension to file his clemency appeal to the President. The confirmation of extension comes as a relief to Mr Ravi who had repeatedly asked the SPS for the confirmation since 18 August. 

What was Vui Kong doing all these while? 

Vui Kong, remorseful but hopeful to live and contribute to society

Meanwhile, Vui Kong had been brushing up on his English. In his possession is a Chinese-English dictionary and some Buddhist texts. He tries his best to learn English, a new language to him, for the purpose of communicating with his lawyer. 

Periodically he pen letters to his family and friends, sharing religious teachings, gratitude and encouragement. He wakes up early every morning to meditate.  

When the court granted him a stay of execution last December, one of the first people to pay Vui Kong a visit was his lawyer, M. Ravi. During the meeting, Vui Kong presented him a gift – a picture that had taken him weeks to complete. He would kneel for hours as he drew. The picture is a colourful interpretation of one of the manifestations of Lord Buddha, standing at the gates of hell, saving souls from eternal damnation.
“He is remorseful and feels he should be severely punished,” his brother Yun Leong explained, “but he wants to live so he can continue seeing us, seeing our mother again. He wants to keep learning and meditating and being a better person.”

To be continued...
Updated 27th Aug 2010


Anonymous said...

Good post!

Jeannette Chong Aruldoss said...

Yong Vui Kong was to have been executed on 4 Dec 09. However, he is now still alive 7 months later, thanks to the efforts of M Ravi and other civic-minded folks like him who refuse to believe the oft-quoted mantra "Don't bother. There is nothing you can do about it".

On one hand, Yong (and his family) has been given hope as well as with the heart-warming knowledge that other people - strangers who do not know him or his family personally - care about what will happen to him. That is already something in itself.

On the other hand, major legal developments have been made in the areas of criminal and constitutional law, to the undoubted benefit of not just those on death row in Spore but to civil society as a whole.

Rewinding back to November 2009: who would have thought Yong's story would turn out the way it has and is still unfolding as we speak?

Walkingthewalk said...

Put him through the noose.
Have his family friends come witness.
Have several people testify how their life were destroyed by drugs.
Those who want him punished proclaim "He is punished. Hanged dead is his naive old self."
Then free him.
He is to proclaim "his new self is dedicate to live for God and others."
Those who wants a 2nd chance for him "amen. praise God."

Anonymous said...

To those who think Death Penalty is a way to stop Drug trafficking, I say "Good luck" after all it is the Law made in various countries which increased the underworld trade of Drugs making Vui Kong the current victim.

Yet Heroine is NOT as detructive as ALCOHOL - the worse drug known to mankind in terms of addiction and damage to man. Yet it is all over the counter... If herione is made a controlled legal, would the DRUG LORDS spent all the money to beat enforcement agencies?

Vui Kong is a victim who deserve a second chance. His family needs it but to make it functional he has to be rehabilated. Malaysia can afford to give him a second chance.

All drug addicts can be rehabilated if Malaysia and other countries want to free its citizens from DRUG Addiction by helping to make our UNIVERSAL antidote available to the whole world...

Chloe Deschamp said...

To walking the walk. Obviously you are a fat dumb Singaporean. It would be interesting if one of your family memebers were in that position and I would like to see your comments then.
The Singaporeans only catch the small fish. They are too bloody stupid to go after the bigwigs in the drug trade. If they did, they would find that these drug dealers are friends with the Singaporean PM. So shut your stupid mouth you dumb shit and go back to Geylang where you prostitute yourself.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can start coordinating with Avaaz to reach the global community, like what they did successfully with Sakineh - refer "Last week a massive global outcry stopped an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, from being stoned to death."' link http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_stoning/?cl=670705948&v=6802

Anonymous said...

Mr President, please pardon Yong. No sin is greater than another. All are sins. God will not remember your sins if you pardon this young man who is a victim of his own situation. Jesus says forgive. Not punish. This chap did not know the was the consequences of his act. He did not have the wisdom to choose between right & wrong. Why not a second chance. You have what it takes to save a life. You do not have second chance to change your decision after the execution. Fear God; not Man. Praying for you to be courageous and stand up !

Anonymous said...

Chloe Deschamp may have misread Walkingthewalk's post.

From what I read he (Walkingthewalk) is saying that Yong Vui Kong is NOT to be hanged. He is saying to put the convicts head into the noose without hanging him, by symbolically proclaiming the death of the OLD self, and FREEing him. He means to imply redemption and forgiveness.

In all good faith I believe an apology should be due to the good (and religious) man.

For Chloe Deschamp, I would advice a less aggressive stance on this matter. There are people who may support the execution for they may have families and lives affected by the scourge of drugs. You asked another to stand on the shoes of Yong Vui Kong's family yet have you tried standing in the shoes of those whose life are affected by drugs?

Personally, I do not believe the death sentence should be meted out. But I do not think he should be freed. Naive or otherwise the decision to push and smuggle drugs are a concious one. The sentence should be commuted to life in prison. When he trully redeems his sins then and only then should he be freed.

Come On La said...

Vui Kong;

I think Death Penalty shouldnt be use on him.
1st Every 1 deserve a 2nd chance.
2nd He didint murdered any 1.
Death Penatly not only end his life but also hurts his kins...
3rd He is a human. (Human make mistake. If this is your child...)
4th Too young to think, young hot blooded.
5th He dare to admit his mistake.
6th Why are the police force catching the chick(Drug Flees). Go find the HEN(Drug Lord.)

Anonymous said...

Yong Vui Kong, was convicted of trafficking in 47.27g of diamorphine amongst other charges

Being young is not an excuse. Ignorantia juris non excusat or Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Latin for “Ignorance of the law does not excuse” or “ignorance of the law excuses no one”) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content which include the contents of the parcel he was carrying.

Section 213 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68) states that :

No sentence of death against person under 18 years.
213. Sentence of death shall not be pronounced on or recorded against a person convicted of an offence if it appears to the court that at the time when the offence was committed he was under the age of 18 years but instead of that the court shall sentence him to be detained during the President’s pleasure, and, if so sentenced, he shall be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the President directs, and while so detained shall be deemed to be in legal custody.

Yong was well above 18 years of age at the time of his arrest and thus can not be exempted from a sentence of death. From the evidence that was given by Yong’s accomplice, it was not the first time Yong has trafficked drugs into Singapore. 47.27g of diamorphine can be used to produce approximately 4,566 straws of heroin, which is worth at least $136,980. If the drugs had flowed out onto the streets, I wonder how many people will die and how many lives will be destroyed. For the 47.27g of diamorphine alone, he is already liable to be sentenced to death THRICE. So, should he die? An Injustice is only tolerable when it prevent further injustices. He should count himself lucky that he can only DIE ONCE.

Maybe he should try swallowing all the 1730 tablets which he had trafficked in and see if he can survive. If he can, I will put my signature down in the petition as well.

Anonymous said...

唔好念住作反 等我队林你地呢班冷旦
一念天堂 另一念应该就系地狱
一只脚在监房 一只预左踏入棺木

Anonymous said...

These are all his charges hor...calculate 1 by 1 he also have to sit until he become bones

1. Trafficking in controlled drugs by delivering 34 packets of a substance containing not less than 14.09 g of diamorphine, under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA.

2. Trafficking in controlled drugs by transporting 1 packet of substance containing not less than 82.77 g of ketamine in motor car MBK 5317 from Yishun St 22 to the vicinity of Meritus Mandarin Hotel at Orchard Road, Singapore, under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

3. Trafficking in controlled drugs by transporting 100 tablets containing 13.04g of N, a-dimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy) phenethylamine (ie ecstasy) in motor car MBK 5317 from Yishun St 22 to the vicinity of Meritus Mandarin Hotel at Orchard Road, Singapore, under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

4. Trafficking in controlled drugs by transporting 1 packet of substance containing 19.28 g of methamphetamine (ie ‘ice’) in motor car MBK 5317 from Yishun St 22 to the vicinity of Meritus Mandarin Hotel at Orchard Road, Singapore, under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

5. Trafficking in controlled drugs by delivering 130 tablets containing 16.77 g of N, adimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy) phenethylamine (ie ecstasy), under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

6 Trafficking in controlled drugs by delivering 3 packets of substance containing not less than 106.88 g of ketamine, under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

7. Trafficking in controlled drugs by delivering 1 packet of substance containing 3.73 g of methamphetamine (ie ‘ice’), under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the MDA

8. Trafficking in controlled drugs by delivering 1500 tablets containing nimetazepam (ie Erimin), under section 5(1)(a) andpunishable under section 33 of the MDA

Anonymous said...

@Chloe Deschamp said...

then at the point of his arrest, he should have saved his own ass by offering his "service" to CNB poke his bosses out and become "informer" or "Prosecution Witness", he shouldered everything because of "loyalty" leh

Anonymous said...

義 = 我是羔羊

Anonymous said...

He picked up Buddhism already right? Then he should understand what is





Anonymous said...

英雄 梟雄 其實我早知道系無用 不過暫時我為著掛住條龍
想到舊時我大有錢財富 不應拋棄了歡容

我自上紅白癮 冷落都難人憐憫
想話跳出馬路來命喪 真心痛 我慨歎都無用
山崩海嘯地老天荒我還未怕 只怕無條龍
我對住條龍 就歎一聲 心痛 骨痛 仲有條腰都酸酸痛

我覺得聾眼實有幾分朦 喉嚨有啖痰擁擁槓
望你俾張錫紙我做龍 條龍就楹舅W天空 唔追唔打
頭痛 皆因借度借度兩皆空 都還望你俾張錫紙我做龍


Anonymous said...

郭炳堅 - 白粉害我


Anonymous said...

Found a detail version of Yong Vui Kong's journey at


Everyone talks a lot but only those who experience the same kind of proverty and abuse as Vui Kong and successfully make it to the society (no criminal records and successful career) have the right to condemn him.

If you have good education, good parents, money, and don't even have to work at young age, then what can you say. Since you haven't experience that kind of horrible situation in your life that you desperately want to get out as soon as you can and you don't even have education to teach you how to differentiate what is right and what is wrong.

Instead of putting all the blame on him, do you think society fails too? You're also part of this society too.

Anonymous said...

give vui kong a chance,let him have his day in the court of law.Use a lie dectator on him or any other means to prove his innocence.i support the death penalty for trafficking of drugs,but not Mandatory.Never mess with heroine,it's more expensive than gold.if not for the death penalty,many would have taken the risk,especially most of the addicts.with more supply,samples can be easily given to those who wants to try.All it takes,the most is seven days to take away the dignity of your son and turn your daughter into a whore.