Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vui Kong gets to see his next birthday

In a court ruling on 31 Aug, Vui Kong gets another stay of execution from the High Court when it ruled that the date for appeal of the High Court's judgement on judicial review will be on the week commencing from 17 Jan 2011.

Vui Kong, who will be 23 in January next year, will have spent almost 4 years in prison after his incarceration.

The average waiting time for convicts in death row in recent years have reduced dramatically as the court processes become more efficient.

The judges seem to have a compassionate streak to give Vui Kong's lawyer another 4 months to prepare and Vui Kong another 4 months to continue his daily ritual of prayers and maintain a tiny sliver of hope that one day, the Singapore President can grant him clemency.

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.

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

The judges seem to favour giving Vui Kong a second chance, but they are unable to because of the lack of discretion due to the mandatory nature of the death penalty applicable to drug traffickers.

This is unfortunate, because day in and day out these judges see criminals, some sentenced to death, others not. High court judges should be given the powers to decide whether a person has committed a crime so heinous that he/she deserves the death sentence.

Malaysia has had a minister speaking up about abolishing the death penalty recently, when would it be Singapore's turn?

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