Malaysian High Commission visits death row inmate

Andrew Loh

Representatives from the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore have visited Yong Vui Kong in prison, The Online Citizen has learned. This is the first time that Malaysian government officials have done so since Yong’s arrest in June 2007. We also understand that the High Commissioner has asked to meet with Yong’s lawyer, Mr Madasamy Ravi.

Yong is being held in Singapore’s Changi Prison after he was found guilty by the courts for drug trafficking. He faces the mandatory death penalty.

The visit on 17 June by the High Commission of Malaysia seems to have been sparked by the “shock and astonishment” from lawyers who are involved in the death penalty issue after Malaysian Law Minister Nazri Aziz said, on 16 June, that he was not aware of Yong’s case. The minister had also dismissed Mr Ravi’s appeal for the Malaysian government to act to save Yong from the gallows. News portal Malaysiakini reported the minister as saying “that Malaysia will not interfere in its neighbour’s legal processes.” (See here)

His remarks have been criticized by rights lawyers and activists in Malaysia.

Nonetheless, Mr Ravi is heartened that the Malaysian government is taking notice of the case. “I am prepared to give my fullest cooperation to assist the Malaysian government to act in the rightful manner and best interest of my client,” he told Malaysiakini.

Mr Ravi is urging the Malaysian authorities to bring the matter to the International Court of Justice. “The key issue surrounding the matter was the fact that Yong was denied the clemency process when it was filed in December last year,” said Mr Ravi.

“The denial of due process to a helpless Malaysian citizen who is facing imminent death in a few weeks, calls for immediate attention from the Malaysian government to file a complaint at the International Court of Justice,” Mr Ravi told Malaysiakini in an earlier interview.

TOC understands that Commissioner Md Hussin Nayan yesterday (17 June) requested an “urgent” meeting with Mr Ravi at 10am on 18 June, Friday.

However, we have just learned that when Mr Ravi visited the High Commissioner’s office this morning (18 June), the planned meeting at the consulate was abruptly cancelled and moved to another venue.

We also understand that consulate officials, including the second political secretary, are seeking details of Yong’s case from Mr Ravi and that they will be meeting with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry in due course.

In the meantime, Mr Ravi says Yong is glad that the Malaysian government is now taking an interest in his case and for having visited him in prison for the first time.


Read also: Lawyer urges Malaysian government to intervene in death row case.