Friday, August 27, 2010

Petition begging President SR Nathan to spare Vui Kong’s life submitted

The entire post have been taken from Jacob 69er , who has compiled

Vui Kong’s clemency deadline has been extended. The Singapore Prison Service informed Vui Kong’s lawyer, M. Ravi, today of the extension. One day before the deadline, 26th August 2010. {Read TOC’s report Vui Kong given extension to file clemency, Shadrake’s trial postponed}

Media reports on what transpired yesterday. More photos here.
Photo: Damien Chng

The family of Yong Vui Kong has been working hard these past two months – hitting the streets in both Singapore and Malaysia to collect signatures for a petition begging President SR Nathan to spare Vui Kong’s life.

Activists in Malaysia have rallied to their cause. By 10 am this morning, the campaign had collected a total of 109 346 signatures. Among those who signed were 44 Members of Parliament and 15 senators in Malaysia.
Vui Kong’s father and six siblings delivered the petition and signatures to the Istana earlier today. They were accompanied by Sabah MP Datuk Chua Soon Bui, some close relatives, as well as lawyers M Ravi and Ngeow Chow Ying.

The family was not able to hand the petition to guards at the front gates of the Istana and had to use an alternative entrance 15 minutes away. The group walked uphill, in the blazing heat to this other gate where they were met by Security Officer, Corporal Marcus Chong [picture, right]. He took the files of signatures and told the family, “You may leave now.”

Vui Kong’s father, Mr Yong Kwong Keong, had prepared a personal message for President Nathan. Corporal Chong was asked to help pass this on but declined to do so, instead asking repeatedly for the family to vacate the area.

Mr Yong broke down in tears and the family knelt down in front of the gates. They remained there for several minutes before guards ordered them to leave.

At a press conference held later, Mr Ravi expressed disappointment over how the Yong family was treated at the Istana . “We are also faced with the unfortunate circumstance that we have to go to the Istana,” he said, “even though the courts have said that the President has no power.”

Datuk Chua urged President Nathan and the Cabinet to give Vui Kong’s case due consideration before making a final decision. She also questioned a decision by prison authorities to deny her request to visit Vui Kong on Monday. The Online Citizen understands two of his aunts were also denied access, although a cousin was granted entry.

“I feel the authorities should be more human,” Datuk Chua said. “This case is a special case. We don’t know how long before [Vui Kong’s] life is terminated. The family members and I came here just to see Vui Kong. We feel this is not too much to ask.”

The deadline for Vui Kong to submit his clemency appeal to the President is Thursday, 26 August.

However, when handing down his decision on Mr Ravi’s application for a judicial review of the clemency process, Justice Steven Chong had “invited” the Singapore Prison Service to extend the stay of execution as he said he expected Mr Ravi to appeal his judgement.

Mr Ravi has requested confirmation of the extension from the Prison Service, however, as of Tuesday, 24 August, he has yet to receive a response.

Vui Kong was arrested in June, 2007. He was 18 and a half years old then. The Singapore courts subsequently sentenced him to death for trafficking 47g of heroin into Singapore. He was originally scheduled to hang on 4 December last year, but since then, his lawyer, M Ravi, has managed to obtain two stays of executions.

In the past few weeks, the Yong family, as well as campaigners in both Malaysia and Singapore have worked round the clock, organising public forums and collecting signatures online and on the streets, to appeal to President Nathan to spare Vui Kong’s life.

Several non-governmental organisations are backing the campaign. These include the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia, Lawyers For Liberty, Amnesty Hong Kong and the Singapore Anti-death Penalty Campaign.

The Malaysian government added its voice to the call for clemency when it sent a letter of appeal to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 29. The Singapore government however has yet to respond to the letter. A spokesman for the ministry told the media that “[the] letter of appeal has been referred to the legal authorities.”

The campaign to save Vui Kong does not end today. “We will continue to collect signatures until the President makes a decision,” said Ms Ngeow.

“As long as there’s time, even if there’s just one second left,” said Yun Leong, “we will all still work hard for Vui Kong.”

Special thanks to Lynn Lee.

Photo: Damien Chng

Petition to spare trafficker’s life delivered to Istana
Zakir Hussain & Rachel Lin, Straits Times, 25 Aug 2010
Mr Yong Yun Leong, an older brother of convicted drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong, presenting part of the petition to a policeman at the Istana yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

A PETITION with a bundle of signatures gathered on the streets and online was delivered to the Istana yesterday morning, calling on President S R Nathan to spare the life of convicted Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong.

It was presented by a group of 12 of Yong’s family members and supporters. Police officers from the Istana Security Unit received the petition outside the Istana’s Cavenagh Road entrance.

The group, which included the Member of Parliament for Yong’s constituency in Sabah, met at Plaza Singapura at 9am.

Most wore T-shirts with the words Give Life a Second Chance, the slogan for the Save Vui Kong Campaign.
At 10am, they walked to the Istana’s Cavenagh Road entrance, carrying a box, files and bundles of paper bearing 109,346 signatures.

These had been gathered over the past two months on the streets of Yong’s home state of Sabah, as well as in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and online.

There were 43,446 Sabahans who signed the petition; 32,719 in Peninsular Malaysia; and 331 in Singapore. The other 32,850 signatures were gathered online.

A dozen journalists and photographers from Singapore and Malaysian Chinese media were present outside the Istana.

After the petition was handed over at the Cavenagh Road entrance, Yong’s father, three brothers, three sisters and two relatives knelt in front of the security officers. The officers urged them to leave.

Yong’s parents divorced when he was a child and he was raised by his mother.

Speaking in Mandarin, Yong’s father, Mr Yong Kwong Keong, 59, said he hoped his son would get a second chance.

‘I wasn’t able to take care of him when he was young,’ he said.

The MP for Yong’s Tawau constituency, Datuk Chua Soon Bui, said she hoped the President and Cabinet would give the petition due consideration.

Yong’s case has attracted attention among human rights activists here and in Malaysia. Last month, the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, together with human rights group Suaram, formed the Save Vui Kong Campaign.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman also sent a clemency plea to the Singapore Government last month.
Yong was convicted by the High Court in 2008 of trafficking in 47.27g of heroin and was sentenced to death. The Court of Appeal turned down his appeal in May, and he was given until tomorrow to file a plea for presidential clemency.

Yong’s lawyer M. Ravi also applied to the High Court to seek judicial review of the clemency process, arguing that the process by which the President grants pardons – on the advice of the Cabinet – is flawed. But the court dismissed the application on Aug 13, saying the power to pardon lies with the Cabinet and not the President.

But it invited the Prisons Department to extend the deadline for Yong’s clemency petition till after the Court of Appeal had reached its decision on the dismissal.

Mr Ravi has not heard from Prisons on the extension. He plans to appeal against the dismissal and has till Sept 12 to do so.

Photo: Damien Chng

SINGAPORE – The six Malaysian siblings were split up when their parents divorced two decades ago but they reunited yesterday in Singapore. They wanted to petition for their brother’s life.

The family of convicted drug mule Yong Vui Kong went to the Istana with about 109,000 signatures, canvassed online and on the streets, mostly from Malaysia, to appeal for clemency for Yong.

After submitting the petition to officials at the Istana’s Cavenagh Road entrance, they were asked to leave as the grounds were a gazetted area. But the family, including Yong’s 58-year-old father, knelt at the entrance for several minutes instead.

Vui Fong, the youngest child at 20, told reporters later: “I hope the President of Singapore will give my brother a second chance … at his age.”

Yong, 22, was convicted in 2008 for trafficking in 47 grams of heroin into Singapore. His clemency appeal against his execution expires tomorrow.

However, High Court Judge Steven Chong had invited the prison authorities to extend the deadline so that Yong could appeal against a Court ruling two weeks ago that the power to grant pardons rests with the Cabinet, not the President, under the Constitution.

Lawyer M Ravi said he would continue to fight Yong’s case. He has until Sept 12 to file the appeal.

On Monday, Yong’s family visited him in prison and said he was in high spirits. Fourth sibling Yun Leong, 26, said: “Until the very last minute, we won’t give up.” 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No to capital punishment for baby abandonment - When will they learn that capital punishment is wrong and is no deterent ?

Dumping a baby, with the intention to kill  or cause grievous hurt to the baby, is certainly wrong...and would amount to  murder.  But, should we not be more interested in trying to find out the reasons behind this phenomenon. Was the pregnancy caused by reason of a rape or some other crime? Was it because of the lack of sex education? Was it because of the gender of the baby? Was it because of economic related reasons? Was it to escape communal/societal pressure in cases where mothers are unwed or 'too young'? More importantly, we really must give these mothers/parents who do not want to keep their babies the options as to where they can send their babies to, with possibility of a guarantee of anonymity and free from any criminal prosecution for 'baby abandonment'.
It is absurd for the government to be looking at just increasing the criminal penalty of the offence of abandonment of babies, that resulted in death.
PETALING JAYA: Capital punishment may not be the solution to baby dumping as proper education should be given to the young to prevent them from committing such a crime, said Women’s Aid Organi­sation president Ivy Josiah.

She said sex education and access to help for pregnant mothers would be preferable to punishing offenders with the death sentence.

“Show us the research and evidence that capital punishment will help prevent crime. Drug trafficking, which is punishable by death, is still going on,” she said yesterday.

She added that the death of a baby was a sad thing but society should also lament the “uncaring” environment that drives a mother to abandon her newborn baby.

The Cabinet has agreed with a proposal by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry that those who abandoned their babies resulting in death should be investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Commissioner Mohammad Sha’ani Abdullah said the Govern­ment should get more feedback from the public before deciding on the issue.

He said such a decision should not be made in haste because it was not one that can be resolved by using legislation.

MCA Public Services and Com­plaints Bureau chief Datuk Michael Chong said the baby dumping problem was due to lack of proper guidance for the young.

“Most cases involve young people. They are ashamed and afraid that their actions will result in rejection. So instead of seeking help, they chose to dump their babies.”

Chong added that measures such as counselling and family support were important to prevent people from abandoning their babies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Abolish noose and free Shadrake, S'pore urged (Malaysiakini, 10/8/2010)

Activists from Malaysian NGO Lawyers for Liberty have demanded that the Singaporean government abolish the death penalty and withdraw all charges against British author Alan Shadrake.

NONEIn a protest memorandum addressed to the Singapore High Commission, a group of about 10 activists led by lawyer N Surendran (centre in photo) called for judicial reform in the Singapore justice system.

The memorandum contained multiple requests, amongst them to abolish the death penalty, and pardon Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, who faces the gallows for drug trafficking.

Included is a call to withdraw all charges against Shadrake, who has been arrested and charged over his controversial book 'Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock'.

First secretary Walter Chia received the memorandum on behalf of the high commissioner T Jasudasen, who did not meet with the group despite repeated requests.

'M Vignes unfairly executed'

The memorandum also demands for Malaysian factory worker M Vignes' name to be cleared posthumously.

NONEVignes (left in photo) was hanged in Changi Prison in 2003 for allegedly giving 27.65g of heroin to an undercover police officer in September 2001, according to court documents.

Vignes' family however maintains his innocence, and Shadrake's book which covered the case also alleges that the police officer was of questionable character.

Vignes' father V Mourthi (topmost photo), who was present with the lawyers at the protest, recalled that when lawyer M Ravi asked whether Vignes had to die because of procedure, then-Singapore chief justice Yong Pung How “arrogantly” threw down his pen and answered, “Yes.”

Surendran cried foul over Vignes' hanging and decried Yong's conduct during the trial, saying, “It was as if the former chief justice killed an innocent Malaysian with his own hands.”

Mourthi sold his property to finance Vignes' defence and now sells kuih in Johor Bahru.

Jolly Hangman selling well in JB

Also present at the protest were lawyers Latheefa Koya and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri as well as Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) executive director Chong Ton Sin, who is the publisher of 'The Jolly Hangman'.

NONEChong said that sales of the book in Johor Bahru were brisk because although the Singaporean government had not banned the book, bookshops in the republic have been advised not to sell them openly.

The book is now in its third edition and 4,000 copies have been sold so far.

Around 20 uniformed police officers and 10 plainclothes personnel had gathered outside the Singapore High Commission, but the protest was incident-free. _ Malaysiakini, 10/8/2010, Abolish noose and free Shadrake, S'pore urged

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Some statements on the Death Penalty By the Holy Father, John Paul II

Statements on the Death Penalty By the Holy Father

The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary. (Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, MO, January 1999) Punishment cannot be reduced to mere retribution, much less take the form of social retaliation or a sort of institutional vengeance. Punishment and imprisonment have meaning if they serve the rehabilitation of the individual by offering those who have made a mistake an opportunity to reflect and to change their lives in order to be fully reintegrated into society. (Pope John Paul II, Jubilee Homily to Prisoners, Rome, July 2002) 

The Holy Father calls recourse to the death penalty “unnecessary” and painfully reminds us that our “model of society bears the stamp of the culture of death, and is therefore in opposition to the Gospel message.” (Pope John Paul II, World Day of the Sick, Washington, DC, February 2003) 

May the proclamation of Christmas be a source of encouragement to all those who work to bring relief to the tormented situation in the Middle East by respecting international commitments. May Christmas help to strengthen and renew, throughout the world, the consensus concerning the need for urgent and adequate measures to halt the production and sale of arms, to defend human life, to end the death penalty, to free children and adolescents from all forms of exploitation, to restrain the bloodied hand of those responsible for genocide and crimes of war, to give environmental issues, especially after the recent natural catastrophes, the indispensable attention which they deserve for the protection of creation and of human dignity! (Pope John Paul II, Christmas Day Message, 1998) 

Nowadays, in America as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless victims of abortion; the elderly and incurably ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism. Nor can I fail to mention the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty when other "bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons. Today, given the means at the State's disposal to deal with crime and control those who commit it, without abandoning all hope of their redemption, the cases where it is absolutely necessary to do away with an offender 'are now very rare, even non-existent practically'". (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America January 1999) 

The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offense." Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behavior and be rehabilitated. 

It is clear that for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: In other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare if not practically nonexistent. (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995)