Kenneth Jeyaretnam spells out his party's stance towards the death penalty. He also calls on the government to release the new electoral boundaries early.
Singapore's newest political party will be putting out an open letter calling for drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong’s death sentence to be reduced, said Kenneth Jeyaretnam at the party’s discussion session on the economy held last Saturday.
That was before the 20-year-old Malaysian boy’s hearing on Tuesday at the Court of Appeal, where it was decided that Yong’s execution would be delayed by up to a month or more, pending an appeal where the merits of the case would be heard.
No time frame, however, had been set for the open letter to be released.
Before this, none of the other opposition parties in Singapore have officially spoke out against Yong’s death sentence. The closest party to do so would be the Singapore Democrat Party, which featured a video interview with Ravi Madasamy, who is Yong’s lawyer, as well as an article by ejected news correspondent Ben Bland condemning the death penalty.
When asked by The Online Citizen why the Reform Party had not spoken out earlier, he explained that there are already enough organisations that have issued statements condemning Yong's impending execution.
Mr Jeyaretnam added: “Based on what I was told, I think the anti-death penalty campaign is trying to, because of the way the NGO’s in Singapore operate, steer clear of asking opposition parties in Singapore to say anything.”
Nonetheless, the party leader articulated his organisation’s stand against the death penalty.
“Certainly for drug trafficking it is not a capital crime and [the death penalty] doesn’t solve anything. A lot of these people are poorly educated, fairly desperate. It may not deter them because their family will still benefit. So I don’t really see much use or purpose for it,” he said.
He hopes to see the striking down of the death penalty punishment for drug trafficking as the first stage to an “eventual abolition or moratorium of the death penalty.”
He added: “Personally I’m against the death penalty and I believe that the state shouldn’t be taking lives. It’s barbaric.”
Reform party calls on govt to release electoral boundary changes early
On another matter, the party is also calling on the government to release early the new constituency boundaries which stemmed from the announced electoral changes during the President’s Address in May, said a press release today.
It was mentioned in Parliament then that the number of Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) will be increased from 9 to 12 while number of Group Representative Constituencies (GRCs) would drop.
This announcement is in fact the latest in a series – the party had previously called for the Elections Department to be removed from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) such that the Department will have political independence.
The party had also called for new boundaries to be released at least six months before the next election so as to give them “the barest minimum time to prepare.”
The government has not responded so far.
Meanwhile, the party will continue its efforts to reach out to citizens. It is organising a walkabout this Sunday in the Hong Kah and Chua Chu Kang constituency.
They will be visiting Block 143, Teck Whye Lane starting from 8am, and will be covering the food centre market and shops.