Anti-death penalty appeal for Yong Vui Kong – Singapore

11 Nov

Source: Amnesty International Canada (from Singabloodypore)

Friends,

We have learned that Yong Vui Kong’s final appeal to Singapore’s President is expected to be heard with the coming week. It is, therefore, urgent that our appeals to him are sent before that decision is made.  I am urging those who have not yet written to send their appeals immediately.  See Urgent Action below.

In June of this year, Vui Kong’s brother wrote a letter of apology and a plea for clemency to President Nathan.  We now have permission to share with you translated excerpts of that letter:

“I hereby tender my sincere apology to all the people of Singapore regarding my brother’s wrongdoing.  I sincerely hope that all of you will give him a chance to live by pardoning him of his death sentence and commute it into a life sentence so that, as a first offender, he could have an opportunity to turn over a new leaf.  He is a remorseful youth now….

10-year old Vui Kong was unable to continue with his education….  Initially he became a kitchen help and he fell into bad company.   Vui Kong was used by the so-called “Big Brother” to be a runner to collect bad debts…. Vui Kong himself did not consume drugs, but from collecting bad debts, he was slowly tasked to delivering gifts.  The young Vui Kong obeyed the instructions of “Big Brother” who said that delivering a little bit of drugs would not lead to death.  Vui Kong fell into the trap of the drug trafficking syndicate.

His mother who suffers from depression does not know anything of his arrest…. My family and I conceal the truth from her as we are worried that she would not be able to take such a blow.

Although the chances of escaping death are very slim, I hope that all of you would give him a new lease of life and hope that Vui Kong would have an opportunity to live again and under the yellow ribbon scheme, he would be able to learn a skill in prison and make some contributions to society in the future.“

With my best wishes,

Margaret John

Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

Amnesty International Canada

URGENT ACTION

===

UA 296/09
AI Index: ASA 36/004/2009 of 3 November 2009

SINGAPORE:  MALAYSIAN MAN FACING EXECUTION

Yong Vui Kong was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in January 2009. He had exhausted his appeals by October, and can now escape execution only if the president grants clemency.

Yong Vui Kong was arrested in June 2007, when he was 19, by officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau. He was charged with trafficking 42.27 grams of heroin, and then sentenced to death in January 2009.

He had been working as a messenger for a man in Malaysia who often asked him to collect money from debtors or deliver packages as “gifts” to people in Singapore and Malaysia. At his trial, Yong Vui Kong said he had not known what was in the packages, and when he asked, he had simply been told not to open them. The judge, however, ruled that Yong must have been aware of their contents, saying in his written summation, “I found that the accused had failed to rebut the presumption against him. I am of the v iew that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt, and I therefore found the accused guilty as charged and sentenced him to suffer death.”

Yong was convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which provides that anyone found guilty of illegally importing, exporting or trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin will automatically receive a mandatory death sentence.

Governments need to address crimes, including drug trafficking, but there is no clear evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stated in his 2005 report that the “mandatory death penalty, which precludes the possibility of a lesser sentence being imposed regardless of the circumstances, is inconsistent with the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. ” To date, 139 countries have abolished death penalty in law or practice.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The authorities in Singapore do not release any information about the use of the death penalty in the country. At least one person is known to have been hanged so far in 2009, and at least three sentenced to death; in 2008, at least one person was hanged and five sentenced to death. The true figures are likely to be higher. The government has always maintained that the death penalty is not a human rights issue, and consistently lobbied other nations against the abolition of the death penalty.

All capital cases are tried by the High Court. Convicted prisoners can appeal, and if they are unsuccessful they can apply to the president for clemency. President Nathan, who has been in power since 1999, is not known to have granted clemency to any condemned prisoner.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Mandarin or your own language:
* urging the president to grant clemency to Yong Vui Kong and commute his death sentence;
* expressing concern that because the death penalty is mandatory for drug-trafficking cases, the court had no discretion to sentence Yong Vui Kong to an alternative punishment;
* calling on the president to introduce a moratorium on executions, with a view to complete abolition of the death penalty.

DIRECT YOUR APPEALS TO:

His Excellency SR Nathan
Office of the President
Istana, Orchard Road
Singapore 0922
Fax:   011 65 6735 3135
Email:  s_r_nathan@istana.gov.sg
Salutation:  Your Excellency

AND COPIES TO:

His Excellency Yong Guan Koh
High Commissioner for Singapore
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tanglin
Singapore 248163
Fax:   011 65 6474-7885
E-mail:  yong_guan_koh@cpf.gov.sg

Editor-in-Chief
The Straits Times
1000 Toa Payoh North
News Centre
Singapore 318994
Fax:   011 65 6319 8282
Email:  stonline@sph.com.sg

Urgent Action Office   Amnesty International Canada
1992 Yonge St, 3rd floor   Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7
(416) 363 9933 ext 325   /   Fax (416) 363 3103   / http://www.amnesty.ca/urgentaction

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One Response to “Anti-death penalty appeal for Yong Vui Kong – Singapore”

  1. Jeg December 2, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Singapore’s Christmas gift to humanity.

    Petitions a bit late,
    exec. has been set for 4 Dec 2009..

    (http://)theonlinecitizen.com/2009/11/president-rejects-clemency-petition-for-yong-vui-kong/

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