Vui Kong’s appeal set for Jan 2011

January 2011 – that’s the date the Registrar of the Supreme Court has set for the Court of Appeal to hear Yong Vui Kong’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on his judicial review application.

Vui Kong’s lawyer was today informed that the appeal hearing has been set “for the week commencing 17 January 2011”.

“This early notice is to give sufficient time for parties to be ready for the hearing, though we are aware that the record of appeals and cases have still not been filed,” the Registrar’s letter said.

The High Court had, on 13 August, dismissed Vui Kong’s appeal for judicial review concerning the authority to grant presidential clemency. Justice Chong ruled that the power to grant clemency “rests solely with the Cabinet” and that the President has no discretion in this.

Justice Chong also laid down that the courts have no power to review the clemency process.

The court was asked to adjudicate on Law Minister K Shanmugam’s remarks made in public before Vui Kong had filed his appeal for presidential clemency and while the Court of Appeal was deliberating Vui Kong’s appeal against his sentence. Vui Kong’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi, argued that the minister’s remarks had prejudiced Vui Kong’s appeal. Justice Chong, in his ruling, said he saw “nothing objectionable about the Minister’s statement”.

Mr Ravi later submitted a notice of appeal to the courts informing them that he intends to appeal Justice Chong’s decisions.

Vui Kong was originally scheduled to be hanged on 4 December 2009.

The original deadline for Vui Kong to submit his presidential clemency appeal was 26 August. The Singapore Prison Service has since informed Mr Ravi that it has extended the deadline until after the Court of Appeal’s hearing.

In the meantime, the Malaysian government sent a letter of appeal for clemency to the Singapore government on Vui Kong’s behalf on 29 July. The Singapore government has yet to respond to the letter. On 26 August, a group of Malaysian lawyers and parliamentarians handed a memorandum to the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur asking for Singapore to show mercy to Vui Kong.

Vui Kong’s family, together with MP for Sabah, Datuk Chua Soon Bui, and supporters, paid a visit to the Istana on 24 August to plead for Vui Kong to be given a second chance. The family members handed over 100,000 signatures collected in both Malaysia and Singapore in support of the plea. (Read TOC’s report here.)

The campaign to save Vui Kong has gathered pace in recent weeks, with many non-governmental organizations, politicians (both from the ruling party and from the opposition), Buddhists associations and youth groups, giving their support to the clemency request.

Singapore’s President, SR Nathan, has never granted any clemency appeals in his 11 years in office as Head of State.