By Amnesty International –

AI Index: ASA 36/2012.002

Mr.  K. Shanmugam

Law Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Treasury,
100 High Street, #08-02
Singapore 179434


Dear Minister


Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) urge Singapore’s Cabinet to advise the President to grant clemency to Yong Vui Kong, a young Malaysian who faces imminent execution for drug trafficking. Clemency granted by the President, following advice from the Cabinet, is Yong’s last hope.

On 4 April, Singapore’s Supreme Court rejected Yong Vui Kong’s third and final appeal submitted by his lawyer, M. Ravi. The appeal argued that Yong Vui Kong was subjected to unequal treatment before the law when the Attorney-General’s Chamber decided not to prosecute the alleged mastermind of the drug operation, a Singaporean who was Yong Vui Kong’s former boss. He remains free from prosecution now that all 26 charges against him were withdrawn by the Attorney-General’s office. Yet his former employee, Yong Vui Kong, has spent almost four years on death row and now faces imminent execution.

Yong Vui Kong was 19 when first arrested in 2007 for possessing 47g of heroin.  In 2008 Singapore’s High Court sentenced him to death under the Misuse of Drugs Act – which provides a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught with over 15g of heroin.  The law strips the judiciary of discretion to pass a lesser sentence, or to individualize the sentence in conformity with the degree of culpability of the accused.

In 2005 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said that Singapore’s execution of another prisoner sentenced to death for trafficking heroin, Nguyen Tuong Van, would violate international legal standards relating to the imposition of the death penalty. “No international human rights tribunal anywhere in the world has ever found a mandatory death penalty regime compatible with international human rights norms,” the Special Rapporteur stated.

In resolution 2005/59, adopted on 20 April 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all states that still maintain the death penalty “to ensure… that the death penalty is not imposed… as a mandatory sentence”.

Amnesty International and ADPAN urge Singapore to follow the worldwide trend among common-law countries to ban the use of the mandatory death penalty. The US Supreme Court struck down mandatory penalty in 1976, ruling in Woodson v. North Carolina that “fundamental respect for humanity … requires consideration of the character and record of the individual offender and the circumstances of the particular offense.” In 1983, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the penalty was unconstitutional in Mithu v. Punjab, stating that ““[t]he legislature cannot make relevant circumstances irrelevant, deprive the courts of their legitimate jurisdiction to exercise their discretion.” More recently, in Attorney-General vs Kagula, the Supreme Court of Uganda in 2009 struck down the mandatory death penalty because it prevented courts from considering all specific circumstances of the defendant and of the crime.

Yong Vui Kong’s case has sparked widespread concern around the world.  In his own country, Malaysia, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Malaysian legislators requested the Singaporean authorities to grant clemency in 2010.

The President of Singapore can only grant a presidential pardon upon the advice of the Cabinet. Clemency for a death sentence has only been granted six times since independence in 1965.  Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network call on you and other members of the Cabinet to ensure respect for international legal standards by recommending the commutation of Yong Vui Kong’s death sentence.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and without reservation.  ADPAN is an independent regional network comprising lawyers, NGOs and civil society groups from 24 countries including Singapore. It campaigns for an end to the death penalty across the Asia-Pacific region. 

More than two-thirds of states have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Death sentences and executions are decreasing globally and in Asia. Out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific, 28 have abolished it in law or in practice.   Five out of the 10 ASEAN-member states have also abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. Singapore is one of the few remaining countries in the region that still carries out executions.

Amnesty International and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network are appealing to the Singapore authorities to stop the execution of Yong Vui Kong, to establish a moratorium on the death penalty and to suspend executions. 

Sincerely yours,


Donna Guest

Asia Deputy Director International Secretariat

Amnesty International

M. Ravi

Counsel for Yong Vui Kong 
ADPAN member

This article is published by The Online Citizen, 20 Maxwell Road, #09-17 Maxwell House, Singapore 069113.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

Mindef files court application, Ting & TOC ready to refute allegations

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has replied to Dr Ting Choon Ming’s and…

每周四趟 亚航新加坡直飞怡保启航

亚洲航空(Airasia)从新加坡直飞马来西亚怡保航线,于昨日(12月3日)正式启航。首航从昨早11点40分,从新加坡樟宜机场四号航空楼出发,中午1时抵达怡保苏丹阿兹兰沙机场。 马来西亚亚航首席执行员理亚阿斯玛(Riad Asmat)指出,自10月发布的新山-怡保新航线,已承载接近1万名乘客,包括来自中国、印尼、印度及新加坡的乘客。 “新加坡-怡保新航线是我们致力扩展怡保网络的努力,并希望可以促进更多旅客前往怡保及霹雳。我们对霹雳州政府及旅游局的支持与合作表示感谢。” 至于霹雳州务大臣拿督斯里阿莫斐沙,对亚航为该州开拓第二条直飞怡保的国际航线,表示欢迎。 他相信,每周四趟往返新加坡和怡保的航班,有助落实霹雳州成为马国最重要旅游胜地的愿景。对此,他表示征积极提升当地设施,吸引游客来观光。 去年,超过763万9800人次的马国内地旅客访霹雳州,外国旅客也有26万7245人次,显示该州在发展旅游工业的显著潜能。 亚航每周共有16趟航班往返怡保、新山及新加坡。 亚航新山直飞怡保每周四趟,航班将于2019年2月12日,增加至每周七趟航班。

“毒奶粉”事件疑重现中国 多幼儿出现“大头娃娃”特征

据中国媒体报导,湖南省郴州市永兴县近日多名家长发现,孩子出现营养不良、或患上佝偻病,怀疑是因为曾饮用一款名为“倍氨敏”的所谓“特殊医学用途婴儿配方奶粉”。 多名幼儿体重严重下降,头骨发育畸形,酷似“大头娃娃”。经追查,发现他们曾饮用上述同款奶粉。 这使得中国民众再次对“毒奶粉”事件重现提高警惕,促使当地政府严查普通食品冒充特殊医用配方的违法行为。 一些婴孩因为过敏、早产、高胆红素等因素,而无法进食,才需要食用“特医奶粉”。比如若宝宝对牛奶中蛋白过敏,服用普通奶粉会产生湿疹、腹泻等过敏反应,则需要特殊的抗过敏奶粉。 再者,这类奶粉必须在医生和专业营养师指导下才能食用。然而,当地媒体发现,“倍氨敏”并不具备特医奶粉标准,只是一种固体饮料。 据当地媒体报导,奶粉是郴州“爱婴坊”母婴店强烈推荐,声称“倍氨敏”是店里最好的奶粉,许多对牛奶过敏的宝宝都在饮用。 当家长发现异常想停用,商家即劝阻,有母亲表示孩子被检查出营养不良,导购竟给出是因为饮用量不足等理由。

Founder of sugar dating platform Sugarbook arrested for solicitation of prostitution, network abuse

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — The founder of sugar dating platform Sugarbook, Darren…