Latest: Singapore single mother awaits death row in Malaysia for drug trafficking. On the pretext of a business trip to China, Iqah was handed a suitcase containing heroin arranged by her Nigerian boyfriend and was arrested by Malaysian Immigration. A campaign is underway to raise funds for the appeal. To find out more, read

We have also heard that since Vui Kong's appeal started, there has been an unofficial stay of execution for all prisoners on death row in Changi Prison, pending the decision of the court on Yong's case. As the case has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal, we anticipate a Changi gallows bloodbath in a scale not seen since the Pulau Senang uprising in 1965 when 18 men were convicted of murder and hanged in a single Friday morning.

Singapore, which routinely persecute dissenters and critics, continue to hang young drug runners while at the same time work closely with Burmese military generals, and has invested billions in business ties with Burma, one of the biggest heroin manufacturing countries the world.


If you know someone who's charged in a capital case, received the death sentence, or is on death row in Singapore and if you have have your side of the story to tell, contact us at sgdeathpenalty [at]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign statement on dismissal of Yong Vui Kong's appeal

The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) expresses its deepest disappointment towards the dismissal of Yong Vui Kong's appeal by Singapore's Court of Appeal on Friday. This was despite all the extensive and constructive arguments put forward by his lawyer Mr. M Ravi.

It was also regretful that the court declared this judgment to be set as a precedent and no future arguments against the mandatory death sentence shall be made in a court of law. As a matter of prudence, legal interpretations must be subject to revision, continually challenged by new developments in legal and social thought.

While the Court acknowledged that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment in other countries, it added that Singapore's constitution does not provide for a prohibition against cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.

Hong Kong had already abolished the death penalty in 1966. China, India and Japan have scrapped the mandatory death penalty, while Taiwan and Korea have held a moratorium on executions. In light of the global trend of countries abolishing the mandatory death penalty, Singapore's continued retention of the arbitrary law is both backward and deplorable. The SADPC reiterates that the mandatory death penalty is inhumane and has no place in a modern, civil society.

We are also disturbed that the Law Minister should comment on the case, making specific references to Yong, as the constitutionality of the MDP was pending before the Courts. His comments further prejudices the clemency process which is the final remedy available to Yong.

Further, the dearth of public discourse over the exercise of the death penalty in the tightly regulated mainstream media makes it difficult to gauge public approval. As such, the right of the state to carry out executions on behalf of the public must be called into question.

Given these circumstances, it is unsafe for the cabinet to decide on the clemency and the SADPC henceforth urges the state to commute Yong's death sentence to life imprisonment. In fact, having regard to international legal opinion, this seems to be the only option available to the state.

We would also like to salute Mr. M Ravi for all the energy and effort that has been put into fighting the case of Yong. It is inspiring to see that he has not given up hope and intends to continue in the fight to save Yong from the gallows.

The SADPC will continue to campaign along with Mr. Ravi's legal actions and we hope that the judiciary will change its mind and give Yong a chance to live.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Letter to Yong Vui Kong

Dear Vui Kong,

Thanks so much for your letter. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to reply.

Your brother Yun Leong tells me you are amazingly strong. That you’re prepared to accept whatever happens next. That you want to live, want so much to live, but are ready to face death. I saw what he meant in court on Friday. The serenity on your face. The way you even managed a smile and a wave for your siblings after the awful, awful verdict.

I know you’ve been studying hard. Trying to learn English, quizzing your lawyer about various legal concepts in order to fully understand your own case. So midway through the proceedings on Friday, you must have realised – as did the rest of us in the gallery – that the judges were not going to rule in your favour. They didn’t think our constitution protected us from “inhuman” punishment. Nor did they agree with your lawyer that it should embrace customary international law, which rejects the mandatory death penalty. In fact, despite the vast amount of cases and research presented by your lawyer, they felt there was no customary international law against the mandatory death penalty. I could feel myself shaking my head over and over again, my hand, trembling as I took down the Chief Justice’s words.

What was going through your mind then?

It is now three days after the verdict. Did you spend the weekend trying to make sense of the judges’ logic? Or are you at peace? Calm, as your family said you would be. They say you’ve learnt to let go of fear and anger.

They have nothing but admiration for you, your brothers and sisters. They often speak of your transformation. Of the way you’ve carried yourself through these horrible, dark times. Of the effect Buddhism has had on you. I know they’re not saying all this to drum up sympathy for your cause. I can tell they are genuinely amazed by how much you’ve changed. At various points, they’ve each said the same thing to me - “He’s a totally different person.”

I know it’s been really hard on your siblings. Yun Leong has literally shrunk over the past six months. There are dark circles under his eyes. He is exhausted most of the time. Yet he continues to see you on his one rest day each week. I know he goes without fail, and I know talking to you makes him feel better. He has been a real rock, your brother – dealing with questions from your relatives, the pesky media, your family’s pain… trying to hide the truth from your mother.

Friday night, I had a chat with Vui Fung. She seemed inconsolable. Sad and bewildered and scared. If you should die, she’d have to come and take your ashes back to Sabah. “It’s family custom,” she told me. “But how can I? He’s my brother, my lovely brother. I don’t want to bring him home.”

I didn’t know what to say. How was it possible to make her feel better? No amount of logic, or talk of the Constitution, could justify the court’s verdict to her. It was all legal goobledygook. All she knew was that the judges had agreed that it was right for the state to murder you. YOU. Her lovely brother.

And then, she surprised me. Just before calling it a night, she told me she would try to be strong – that in the end, everyone would be answerable to god. You, for your deeds, the people who sanction your murder, for theirs. I do not believe in god, but perhaps some of the judges do. What answers will they give?

In your letter, you thanked me and all the other people who’ve rallied around your family for our unconditional support. I can’t speak for the others, but as much as I like being thought of as selfless, I have to admit I was initially drawn to your case for personal reasons. I do not have children. But I have a young nephew and niece whom I love dearly. And I do not want them to grow up in a place where ‘inhuman’ punishment is seen as constitutional; where drug mules are hanged and drug lords get the red-carpet treatment.

Above all, I cannot bear the thought of your blood on my hands. What purpose will it serve us to kill you?

Vui Kong, following your case has been the hardest, most heartbreaking thing many of us have ever done. We are all emotionally spent. Exhausted. I cannot imagine how Yun Leong and Vui Fung must feel. Today, someone asked me if it might have been kinder to persuade your family to give up the fight back in December. To let the state hang you and spare your loved ones the agony of waiting and hoping. I think the person failed to fully comprehend the depth of your siblings’ love for you. I know that the waiting is tough, the uncertainty, nerve-wracking. But I know they will cling on to whatever hope they can find. I know how much they appreciate each extra moment they have with you. Yun Leong said as much on Friday. You might be a lowly mule, a statistic to those who want you dead in order to prove a point. But you are also Vui Fung’s lovely brother, Yun Leong’s inspiration, your mother’s favourite son. And they all want you to live. Their pain must be excruciating. The state wants to murder you. And there is so little they can do.

Your life now lies in the hands of our President. He is not known for his compassion – has apparently never granted clemency to anyone. But we continue to cling on to hope. Perhaps, he will grow a heart and surprise us all.

In December, when it felt as if all was lost, Vui Fung went out and bought you some new clothes - a crisp white shirt, some fashionable checked pants. She’d taken pains to pick stuff she thought you would like. These were meant for the state-sponsored photo-taking session before your execution, and after that… your funeral. She showed them to us when she came for your hearing in March. It felt a little surreal, watching her as she carefully unfolded the clothes.

“We want Vui Kong to have the best,” Yun Leong explained, “the very best.”

And then he said this, and I will never forget the look on his face:

“But we hope he never gets to use these things. Never.”

We hope so too. We really do.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TOC: Judgement on Yong Vui Kong’s appeal this Friday

Posted by theonlinecitizen on May 10, 2010

The Court of Appeal will be delivering its judgement this Friday, 14 May, on Yong Vui Kong’s appeal. The hearing will take place at 11am.

It has been two months since Yong made his appeal on 15 March. He is appealing against the death sentence which was imposed on him in 2007 when he was caught with 47g of diamorphine. He was found guilty of drug trafficking and was given the mandatory death penalty.

Originally scheduled to hang on 4 December last year, his lawyer, Mr Madasamy Ravi, persuaded the court that Yong had not had his appeal heard, as was his right under the Constitution. The court agreed and granted Yong a hearing on 15 March. In that hearing, Mr Madasamy argued that the mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional, citing many judicial decisions in other jurisdictions all over the world.

On Sunday, 9 May, Law Minister K Shanmugam defended the Singapore government’s position on the issue. According to the Straits Times, the minister “believes this stand has saved thousands of lives… The penalty applies to a crimes [sic] such as murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking, and Mr Shanmugam believes it has had a deterrent effect, and sent a clear signal to drug barons on Singapore’s position.”

The Online Citizen has been campaigning for a moratorium on the mandatory death penalty since Yong’s case came to light.

You can read the articles and view the videos here: Campaign for a moratorium on the mandatory death penalty.

Judgement on Yong Vui Kong’s appeal this Friday

Death Penalty – Are we trading off justice for real deterrence?

Posted in Life and Death, Social Commentary by mathialee on May 10, 2010
I am appalled by how our so called best and brightest legal minds make such illogical childish arguments in court and on the front page press. It makes me wonder if they really believe what they are saying, or are they compelled by some reason beyond our understanding to continue holding their grip on injustice, and are hence left with little choice but use these flimsy arguments.,-a-trade-off

1. “The mandatory death penalty for serious drug offenses here is a “trade-off” the Government makes to protect ‘thousands of lives’ that may be ruined if drugs were freely available”

Since when did we start trading justice for mere its deterrent effect?
If we begin to accept unjustly disproportionate punishments in order protect even innocent lives, would we not have apply the same principle to all abhorant crimes and impose the mandatory death penalty for all these crimes? Rapes, break-ins, corruption, snatch theft, errant construction companies flouting safety rules — are these any more acceptable than drug trafficking and why do we not impose a mandatory death penalty?
Does having the mandatory death penalty instead of a discretionary death penalty really protect ‘thousands of lives’ more?
Where is the proof? Where is the evidence?
How does this even work at the logical level?
Firstly, will judges stop imposing the death penalty on drug traffickers just because the sentencing is up to their discretion rather than mandatory? For cases where judges indeed do not impose the death penalty (even on appeal by the State prosecutors), should we ask ‘why’? Is it because our judges have somehow gone soft and incapable of administering just and appropriate punishments? Or is it because discretionary death penalty gives them that capacity to administer just and appropriate punishments?

Are we trading off justice for real deterrence?