Letters from Vui Kong – The Twelfth Letter : On Facing Death

Yong Vui Kong is a death row inmate in Singapore. He was arrested at age 19 with 47.27g of heroin, convicted of trafficking and sentenced under the Mandatory Death Penalty. His final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4 April 2011. He can now only plead for clemency from the President (acting on the advice of the Cabinet).

If the President does not grant clemency to Vui Kong, these will be the last 12 letters he will ever write.

The following is the twelfth letter:

第十二章 :《面对死亡》



















English translation:

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for reading this last letter. Time passes so quickly that this is already the last letter. I hope that when you have finished this last letter, you will still continue to support the “Give Life a Second Chance” Campaign.

For this last letter, I would like to talk about how I feel about facing death.

Firstly, I feel that the existence of the death penalty is not for the sake of retribution, but rather a method of allowing the offender to understand and really face the mistake he has committed. Take me as an example, I am actually grateful that I was caught, because it has allowed me to understand the true meaning and purpose of life, and has allowed me to find strength within myself. I remember I once mentioned about how the “me” before I was caught has never truly lived before.

A few days ago, my lawyer came to visit me. He told me that he will send the final appeal to the president a few days later.

On the night before the death sentence is carried out, many death row inmates have no chance to say goodbye to their families. For most of them, they are not in the mood of doing anything else other than feeling hurt and pain on the night before their sentence. Actually for most of these death row inmates, at the moment they are brought out of their room, they are unable to control their emotions, and they start to cry out loud. No amount of counselling will be able to help them because once they step out of their jail room, there is no turning back, and they will be gone forever. At this point of time, those who feel the most pain are their families. I do not dare to imagine how the family would feel when they are waiting outside to collect the cold and lifeless body of their family member.

For me, if tomorrow is my last night, I do not have a choice either, I just have to face the fact . After all, I was the one who made a mistake and I have repented.

You ask me if I would feel frightened, I think I may not be, because I am starting to become familiar with how it feels to face death, don’t forgot that in this short four years, I have brushed past death many times. I have “died” many times. In 2007 when I was caught, practicing Buddhism has allowed me to “reborn”, in 2009 when I was sentenced to death, my lawyer helped me to appeal against my sentence. To be able to live until today is really because of luck.

I do not request for my last dinner to be anything near sumptuous, I think I will follow my regular routine of waking up in the morning to chant my scripts and meditate, followed by my vegetarian breakfast until night falls, put on the best clothes which my sister has bought for me, say goodbye to the rest of the inmates, kowtow to them to show my appreciation and thanks towards them.

Having listen to Buddhist scripts and Buddha teaching is a form of help, guidance, advice and encouragement. I have been through stages where I felt lost, ignorant and was suffering but because of my practice of Buddhism, it has allowed me to free myself.

But I am really unable to express that kind of feeling and I really don’t know how I will feel when I walk
closer toward the noose, I guess no one really will know.

I am also grateful that members of society are willing to forgive me, being able to live until today is my
greatest fortune.

I think that my family has already accepted me, and also accepted whatever outcome it may be. They take comfort in the fact that I have turned over a new leaf, and that I have continued reading and practicing Buddhism. It has also improved the relationship between my family, especially amongst my siblings.

But I still worry sometimes that my mother will come to know that I am no longer around.

For this last letter, I wrote a short letter to express how I feel.

I would like to thank all of you once more, because I will not be able to share my story without your help. I will pray for you guys and I wish you health and happiness.

Vui Kong

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