Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vui Kong - One Year On

Vui Kong was scheduled to hang in the morning of 4th Dec 2009. Exactly one year ago on 8th Dec, he was given the nod by the high court to appeal for his case. He has since outlived his original execution date by more than a year. Vui Kong has had several stay of execution since then and is awaiting the appeal of the High Court's judgement on judicial review, scheduled on the week commencing 17th Jan 2011.

This post is a tribute to the tireless effort of all the various organisations around the world, such as The Online Citizen, Save Vui Kong Campaign Malaysia and Amnesty International who have selflessly contributed over the past 12 months to make this possible. It is also a thank you call to those who have supported the Save Kong Campaign or have signed the petition. Those 100,000 signatures wouldn't have been possible without those who cared.

M. Ravi, human rights lawyer
In particular this post goes out to Vui Kong's counsel, M. Ravi who has been in the campaign against the mandatory death penalty for traffickers, and have worked pro bono for his clients in the past, many times forking out his own money for his court fees, paperwork, client's funeral, families' expenses, overseas trip to appeal to his clients' government. The list just goes on.

It used to be that Ravi had very limited time to prepare for his clients' case, and would overwork himself, simply because it was just him and him alone who had the conviction to press on in his pro bono work for prisoners on death row, a place which no other lawyers in Singapore dared to tread.

During these years, Ravi has come under fire from the mainstream media, who have tried ways and means to character assassinate him. But he has weathered all these and continues to fight tooth and nail for the very values he believes in - humanity.

It is not an easy journey for Ravi, when his clients often regard him as their closest friend during the time leading up to their execution. He has had to see several of his clients mercilessly executed by the state for drug trafficking, such as Vignes Mourthi, Shanmugam Murugesu and Amara Tochi. They did not have a last minute stay of execution like Vui Kong did.

Will we see more lawyers like M. Ravi speaking up against these miscarriage of justice? Only time will tell. After all, it takes more than just courage to rise up against the stoic machinery of the state. It's a conviction and a deep sense of empathy that made Ravi to do what he does. For now, Vui Kong, who has since repented and turned to religion, sits in his cell in Changi Prison clutching at the glimmer of hope that his counsel gave him one year ago.

1 comment:

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