The Singapore Prison Service has denied access to Ms Ngeow Chow Ying, a Malaysian lawyer representing death row inmate, Yong Vui Kong. Ms Ngeow had requested access to her client in order to advise him on his constitutional rights as a Malaysian, now that Yong’s case is a matter which has come under consideration by the Malaysian government.
Ms Ngeow’s role is to advise her client on his legal and constitutional rights under Malaysian laws in the event that the Malaysian government fails to act on his behalf.
Ms Ngeow had made the trip down from Malaysia for this purpose and is currently in Singapore. She had hoped that she would be allowed to visit Yong for the first time.
The request for access was first made to the Prison Service on 5 July. It was only today, 15 July, that the Prison Service responded to the request. In its letter, signed off by Superintendent Tan Khek Keong and addressed to Mr M Ravi (Yong’s Singapore lawyer), the Prison Service said: “We have considered your request and we regret to inform that we are unable to accede to it.” It added: “However, please be assured that we will continue to facilitate Mr Yong’s access to his current appointed Singapore lawyer.”
The Online Citizen understands that following the Prison Service's letter, which was sent to Mr Ravi at about 5pm, the Malaysian High Commission was informed of it and had tried to reach the Prison Service. However, the attempts by the High Commission have not been successful. It seems no one at the Prison Service is available to attend to the High Commission’s phone calls.
It is unclear why the Prison Service has denied access to Ms Ngeow.
In 2005, the Prison Service had allowed access to the Australian lawyers for Nguyen Van Tuong, who was also sentenced to death in Singapore for drug trafficking.
TOC will provide updates on the latest development as and when we have them.