Choo Zheng Xi / Kuala Lumpur
Yong Vui Kong’s lawyer met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifa Aman and a supporting team of international lawyers, securing a promise by the Malaysian government to directly appeal with “all urgency” to the Singapore government for clemency on behalf of Yong.
During the half hour meeting with Mr M Ravi, Dato Sri Anifa highlighted the Malaysian government’s concern over the case: “I heard about this and came especially to Parliament to meet you and hear about the issue."
In the meeting, Dato Sri Anifa also expressed his personal desire to see the clemency plea succeed: “All things aside, if I save one life it will give me great satisfaction. After all, I am a Sabahan too”, he said, referring to the Malaysian state where Yong comes from.
Mr Ravi was given direct access to Malaysia’s Director-General, International Affairs Department, who promised to discuss possible Malaysian action at the International Court of Justice to prevent the execution.
Yong’s appeal against his conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on May 14th this year and his case would ordinarily proceed to the clemency stage.
However, Mr Ravi is expected to file a case for judicial review of that judgment next week, on the basis that comments made by the Singapore Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, on May 9th have prejudged the clemency process and violated Yong’s constitutional right to clemency and due process.
Mr Shanmugam is reported in the Singapore media as having said: “But if we say we let you go what’s the signal we’re sending?”
When these facts were being explained to the meeting by Mr Ravi, Malaysia’s Director-General of International Affairs was visibly startled.
Malaysian interest building
Mr Ravi also managed to speak to key politicians from both the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat to seek their support for the clemency appeal.
From BN, these included Law Minister, Nazri Aziz, and UMNO Youth head, Khairy Jamaluddin. On the Pakatan side, Mr Ravi met with de facto leader of the opposition Mr Anwar Ibrahim, senior members of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Lim Guan Eng, and PAS MP for Shah Alam, Mr Khaled Samad.
The meetings were coordinated through senior member of the PKR and MP for Batu Mr Tian Chua and Yong’s Malaysian lawyer, Ms Ngeow Chow Ying .
"I’m gratified by this development, how important it is for the rule of law, for the development of humane society, that a proportionate response be made with regards to this matter," he added.
Yong’s case was little reported in the Malaysian media as late as a week back, gaining traction mainly on online press. However, after the Foreign Minister’s statements yesterday almost every media outlet carried the news. Around 15 media outlets were counted in the post-meeting press conference.
Presidential clemencies in Singapore are rare but not unheard of. In the history of Singapore, six presidential clemencies have been granted.
Malaysia’s intercession on behalf of its citizens has been successful before: in 2008, China commuted the death sentence of Malaysian citizen Umi Azlim who was convicted of trafficking 2.9kg of heroin.
For more pictures, visit TOC's Facebook page here.
Malaysia to assist in Yong's appeal - Malaysiakini.
Death row case: Malaysian government steps in - Malaysian Insider.
Govt to appeal to S'pore for clemency in Yong's sentence - The Star Online.
Ministry to seek clemency for death row man in S'pore - The Star Online.
Local man in Singapore death row gets govt support - Free Malaysia Today.
Here's a video by Malaysiakini of the press conference held in KL this afternoon:
TOC's Anti-Mandatory Death Penalty video: