Court lifts death sentence; imposes life sentence in drug trafficking case

Court lifts death sentence; imposes life sentence in drug trafficking case

(Photo of M Ravi and Yong Vui Kong’s two brothers)


SINGAPORE, 14 November 2013  – This morning, the High Court of Singapore has lifted the death sentence imposed on 24 year-old Malaysian man, Mr Yong Vui Kong, and ordered instead a sentence of life in prison and judicial caning. This resentencing is the culmination of 4 years of legal challenges and public activism urging the Singapore government to spare Yong’s life, after he was convicted of drug trafficking at the age of 19 and the mandatory death penalty was imposed.

Human rights lawyer, Mr M Ravi, has acted as Yong Vui Kong’s counsel pro bono since 2009. Following the Court’s decision today, Mr Ravi’s office has released the following statement:

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First and foremost, Mr Yong wishes to thank all those members of the public in Singapore, Malaysia and around the world who have supported his case and have lobbied, petitioned and pleaded for his life to be spared. He would like to thank anti-death penalty activists “We Believe in Second Chances”, the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign [SADPC], the Anti-Death Penalty Asian Network [ADPAN], Amnesty International and the legal practioners around the world, for their commitment and dedication to the work of saving his life and those of others facing capital punishment.

Yong wishes to thank his family who have stood so firmly by him throughout these heart-wrenching years and who have made great sacrifices in their own lives to ensure that he has not faced his challenges alone.

Yong has seen the error of his ways and has repented. He is happy to have his life back again.

Reconsidering Capital Punishment

Today, however, may mark a turning point in which we can learn that we will not lose our well-ordered life-style as a result of allowing a drug courier to continue to live; that the entire structure of our metropolis will not collapse because a drug offence is not met with a killing; and that a mature society is one that can tolerate within its boundaries breach of the law without invoking the response of state execution.

Judicial Caning

The tears of joy will be increased by the tears of pain with the Court’s imposition of Judicial Caning, which is itself a barbaric relic of the Middle Ages. It tears the flesh and leaves indelible wounds, both physical and psychological. To offer someone a choice between being put to death and being caned, will provoke a choice for life. That does not excuse the barbarism. Hopefully the day will soon come when we turn our backs on this barbaric practice.

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Written Submissions – CM 56-2013

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