Hon. ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO
Department of Foreign Affairs
9 May 2012
Amnesty International urges the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department to appeal to the Singaporean authorities on behalf of Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian young man who faces imminent execution. Clemency granted by the President is Yong’s last hope.
On 4 April, Singapore’s Supreme Court rejected Yong Vui Kong’s third and final appeal submitted by his lawyer, M. Ravi. The appeal argued that Yong Vui Kong was subjected to unequal treatment before the law when the Attorney-General’s Chamber decided not to prosecute the alleged mastermind of the drug operation, a Singaporean who was Yong Vui Kong’s former boss. He remains free from prosecution now that all 26 charges against him were withdrawn by the Attorney-General’s office. Yet his former employee, Yong Vui Kong, has spent almost four years on death row and now faces imminent execution.
Yong Vui Kong was 19 when first arrested in 2007 for possessing 47g of heroin. In 2008 Singapore’s High Court sentenced him to death under the Misuse of Drugs Act - which provides a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught with over 15g of heroin. The law strips the judiciary of discretion to pass a lesser sentence, or to individualize the sentence in conformity with the degree of culpability of the accused.
On his 24th birthday in
January 2012, Yong Vui Kong had only one wish:
a second chance in life after spending more than half of his adult life
in death row. In July 2011, a few months
Court of Appeal rejected another appeal against Yong’s sentence, he wrote:
"For me, if tomorrow is my last night, I do not have a choice either. I just have to face the fact. After all, I was the one who made a mistake and I have repented. You ask me if I would feel frightened, I think I may not be, because I am starting to become familiar with how it feels to face death, don’t forgot that in this short four years, I have brushed past death many times. I have “died” many times…. I am also grateful that members of society are willing to forgive me, being able to live until today is my greatest fortune.”
Yong Vui Kong’s case has sparked widespread concern around the world. Amnesty International welcomed the Malaysian Foreign Minister’s statement in 2010 that he would request the Singaporean authorities to grant Yong clemency in 2010. Several members of the Malaysian parliament have also appealed for clemency.
The President of Singapore can only grant a presidential pardon upon the advice of the Cabinet, which includes the Law Minister who is concurrently the Foreign Minister.
Amnesty International is now calling on the Philippine government to use all available diplomatic channels to request for the mandatory death sentence of Yong Vui Kong to be commuted so that he may be given a second chance in life.
Amnesty International Philippines