Must Yong Vui Kong Die?

Josh Hong, Jul 23, 10, 12:20pm (Malaysia Kini)

An internal survey carried out by the MCA in 2003 found that 25 percent of Chinese Malaysian students quit schooling before completing secondary education.

Entitled ‘Not One Less’, the report also reckoned that more than 65 percent of the dropouts left school before they had a chance to sit for Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR).

Meanwhile, 26.5 percent of the 169,985 Indian Malaysian students aged 13 through 17 did not complete secondary school in 2001, according to the Yayasan Strategik Sosial (YSS), an MIC social arm. Among them, some 3,000 had not been to school at all.
pirated vcd dvd pirate seller peddler vendor 141006 petaling
Where did these youngsters end up? While I don’t have concrete figures, a stroll around any major town or city in the country exposes me to Chinese youths selling pirated DVDs or working in unlicensed game shops or internet cafes.

Quite a number of the adventurous ones try their luck by working illegally in Australia, the United States and Britain, but many more found themselves in the wrong company and are now forced to collect debts for Ah Longs (loan-sharks) or, worse, trapped in illicit drug trafficking.

(Now, one can tell Mahathir Mohamad and Ibrahim Ali to their face that not all Chinese and Indians are rich and better-off than the Malays.)

That Malaysia has undergone tremendous economic changes over the last two decades is undisputed, and we do now enjoy a level of material comfort that is beyond our forefathers’ wildest dreams.

No jobs in rural areas

But all this has come at a price. The government’s emphasis on heavy industries and the urban economy has resulted in the marginalisation of agriculture and fisheries, a situation aggravated by the worsening income disparity.

These days, school dropouts of all ethnic groups do not have a choice but to venture into the city because jobs in the rural areas are hard to come by.

And the city does not offer them much hope. Vocational training programmes or schools – public and private alike – are closed to these underprivileged youths because they do not even have a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate, so many simply enter the job market as unskilled workers earning meagre pay, or become involved in criminal activities.

Under the glittering surfaces of urban modernity lies a host of social ills. The exam-oriented education system has failed many who are not suited to it, and their futures look bleak.

mat rempitShould one be surprised that the Malays are besieged with the menace of Mat Rempit (street-racers) and dragon-chasers (drug addicts), while gangsterism is a grave concern to the Indians?

And many gambling outlets and brothels would have to shut without the participation of school dropouts from the Chinese community; neither would the Ah Long be doing brisk business.

Even in the vast and resource-rich East Malaysia, the numbers of indigenous girls being lured into the entertainment sector or prostitution in the Peninsula are on the increase.

Rising costs of living mean that both husband and wife are now compelled to work, with no-one at home to tend to the emotional needs of the dropout kid.

One wrong step will leave an indelible pain on the family, and the juvenile delinquency today is a bitter fruit of Malaysia’s obsessive pursuit of economic growth and antipathy towards social justice.

Going down the wrong road

Yong Vui Kong from Sandakan, Sabah, is a typical Chinese Malaysian dropout; he did not even make it to secondary school. His life started to go wrong when he came to Kuala Lumpur to work for Ah Longs, collecting debts and selling pirated DVDs.

NONEAfter being told by his “bosses” that drug trafficking would be met with punishment lighter than that for selling pirated products, he was caught with 47g of heroin by Singapore customs officers.

He was barely 18 years old at the time. Last November, Yong (left) was sentenced to death. M. Ravi, a fearless Singapore lawyer, is now racing against time to save his life.

In the eyes of the Singapore authorities that pride themselves on rigorous justice, Yong is no doubt a perpetrator. But isn’t he also a victim of a failed education system, a broken family and social poverty? Having embraced Buddhism, he is now a changed person remorseful for his wayward past. Would mercy triumph over harsh justice?

Political and economic pressure

Given that the island state is among the least corrupt in the world and home to a great number of Malaysian workers and professionals, where the People’s Action Party (PAP) government seems to have fairer policies that contrast sharply with the malicious nature of Malaysia’s race-based politics.

Chinese Malaysians generally think highly of its justice system, as if everyone is truly equal before the law.

NONEHowever, with the publication of the book ‘Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock’ by Alan Shadrake (left), a former British journalist, this perception is now shattered.

If the PAP government is as colour-blind and judicious as it claims, how would one explain why Shanmugan Murugesu, a Singaporean citizen of Indian origin, was hanged for smuggling marijuana while Julia Bohl, a German national, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, of which she served only three?

Under Singapore’s strict drug laws, capital punishment is mandatory when one possesses more than 500g of marijuana. Bohl had 687g of the stuff with her when she was caught. But she was more than just an innocent consumer, for she actively sold drugs – supplied by a Malaysian syndicate – to her peers in order to sustain her glamorous lifestyle in Singapore. It is widely believed the authorities caved in and reduced the charges against Bohl under Germany’s “economic muscle” (in Shadrake’s words).

Furthermore, Michael McCrae, a British national, was implicated in two gruesome murders in Singapore. Having escaped to Australia on a fake passport, he confessed to the crimes. Requests for extradition by Singapore were rejected because Canberra is opposed to death penalty.

McCrae was finally brought back to the island state to face trial after the Singapore government promised not to resort to the ultimate punishment. Thanks to Singapore’s strong economic interests with Australia, he cheated the gallows and was sentenced to 24 years in jail.

NONEFinally, the Singapore authorities allowed counsels from Down Under to visit Nguyen Tuong Van, an Australian citizen on death row, in 2005. But when Ngeow Chow Ying (right), Yong’s legal representative in Malaysia, sought a meeting with her client, her pleas went unheeded. If this is not double standards, what is?

The PAP argues ad nauseam that only the sternest punishment can deter drug couriers.

But it is a well known fact that the very same government has maintained close trade ties over the years with Lo Hsing Han, a notorious Burmese drug lord of Chinese origin.

Since Singapore is renowned for its world-class efficiency in virtually every area, including nipping dissent in the bud, is it not puzzling that, to date, no notable drug kingpin has been convicted there?

Yong was indeed reckless and guilty, but was his offence really more heinous than those committed by McCrae and Bohl, that it can only be expiated by death?

Of uppermost concern to Malaysians is: if we fail to save Yong from the gallows, would the Malaysian government, political parties and general public be able to ensure Yong would be the last victim of our very own social failure?


Yong Vui Kong wajib mati?

Josh Hong, Merdeka Review

Pada tahun 2003, Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran ketika itu, Hon Choon Kin telah menjalankan satu siasatan dalaman, dan kemudiannya mendapati seramai 25% pelajar Cina berhenti sekolah sebelum menamatkan pendidikan menengah. Daripada angka tersebut, dianggarkan lebih daripada 65% meninggalkan sekolah sebelum menduduki peperiksaan PMR.

Ke manakah anak-anak yang berhenti sekolah ini pergi? Walaupun kita tidak memiliki perangkaan yang tepat, tetapi apabila kita berjalan-jalan di lorong, kita akan menemui ramai remaja Cina yang menjual vcd cetak rompak, bekerja di kafe internet atau mesin judi. Ada yang menipu dengan “gores dan menang”. Mereka yang lebih berani akan bekerja secara haram di US, Australia atau UK. Paling menggelisahkan, tidak kurang remaja yang terlibat dalam pengedaran dadah kerana terperdaya oleh orang di sekitarnya.

Walaupun ekonomi Malaysia mengalami perubahan yang mendadak, dengan kehidupan kebendaan yang lebih lumayan seandainya dibandingkan dengan generasi datuk dan nenek kita, namun ia gagal menutup realiti bahawa gejala negatif muncul berikutan jurang antara kaya dengan miskin yang semakin melebar. Kerajaan menumpu kepada pembangunan industri berat dan ekonomi bandar, dan mengabaikan bidang perikanan dan pertanian di pekan dan kampung. Tiada jalan lain kecuali keluar ke bandar, setelah anak-anak ini – tidak kira apa jua kaumnya – henti sekolah.

Kegemilangan luaran bandar gagal menutup kegelapan yang berada di dalamnya. Sistem pendidikan yang berorientasikan peperiksaan menyebabkan ramai kanak-kanak yang tertinggal. Mereka yang tidak berkemahiran gagal menemui masa depan mereka di bandar. Maka kita melihat Mat Rempit dan penagih dadah di kalangan remaja Melayu, remaja India pula terjerat ke dalam kongsi gelap dan jenayah merompak. Sementara itu, bidang perjudian dan pelacuran semestinya terasa kesannya seandainya remaja Cina yang henti sekolah tidak terjerumus ke dalamnya. Malah, kita diperlihatkan bagaimana wanita kaum asli mendarat di Semenanjung untuk menceburi bidang seks, dari Malaysia Timur yang kaya dengan sumber semula jadi.

Kedua-dua orang ibu-bapa kini perlu bekerja untuk menampung perbelanjaan keluarga, dalam zaman kos sara hidup yang semakin melambung. Ibu bapa yang bekerja di luar gagal mengambil berat keperluan naluri anak yang henti sekolah. Kecuaian untuk berkawan dengan orang yang salah – walaupun sekali sahaja – sudah memadai untuk menjadi kekesalan keluarga untuk seumur hidup. Demikianlah akibat yang ditanggung apabila Malaysia terlalu ghairah untuk menghambat kedudukan ekonomi dan mengabaikan keadilan sosial.

Peluang untuk semua?

Ketika membincangkan pendidikan Cina, masyarakat Cina suka menunjuk-nunjuk dengan berapa “A” yang diperolehi oleh anak mereka, dan sekolah manakah yang melahirkan pelajar dengan semua- A terbanyak, berapa orang pula pelajar yang diserap ke universiti di Singapura. Tetapi tidak ramai orang yang mengambil berat terhadap ratusan ribu pelajar Cina yang henti sekolah.

Beberapa tahun dahulu, “Dunia itu rata” (The world is flat) oleh Thomas Friedman menjadi antara buku yang terlaris di dunia. Ramai antara penganalisa isu semasa dalam media arus perdana terikut-ikut dengan pandangan ini, lantas menyeru agar masyarakat Cina supaya tidak berputus asa, kerana peluang berada di mana-mana.

Dunia itu rata, maka dengan kelebihan yang ada pada diri “kita” (orang Cina), tiada negara yang akan menolak bakat orang Cina. Justeru itu, ia menimbulkan ilusi bahawa semua anak Cina memiliki syarat untuk menjadi Bill Gates atau Tsai Ming Liang (Pengarah filem terkenal, gambar kanan, kanan). Semua orang mampu menerokai jalan untuk dirinya…

Betul, dunia itu rata. Mereka yang mempunyai bakat dan cita-cita besar boleh merentasi Eropah, atau China, Taiwan dan Hong Kong untuk menerokai masa depan. Mereka yang henti sekolah juga berkongsi kemungkinan untuk meluncurkan diri di landasan globalisasi. Sindiket dadah antarabangsa membuka dada untuk menyambut mereka yang henti sekolah untuk memasuki gelanggang. Sehingga kini, ramai antara warga negara kita yang ditangkap di China, Taiwan, Singapura dan Indonesia kerana menyeludup dadah ke negara tersebut.

Adilkah kehakiman di Singapura?

Anak muda Sabah Yong Vui Kong (gambar kiri) telah dijatuhkan hukuman mati di Singapura kerana mengedar dadah. Dari kaca mata Singapura yang tegas dalam penguatkuasaan undang-undangnya, Yong Vui Kong adalah pemangsa. Tetapi bukankah Yong merupakan mangsa daripada sistem pendidikan yang gagal, kehancuran institusi negara dan kemiskinan masyarakat?

Lebih-lebih lagi, Yong hanya seorang remaja yang usianya belum genap 18 tahun semasa kejadian ini berlaku. Apa yang menimpa ke atas dirinya menggagalkannya untuk membezakan antara garis yang hitam dengan yang putih. Kini, beliau telah insaf setelah menganuti Buddha, apakah tiada ruang untuk perikemanusiaan dalam undang-undang yang tegas?

Apakah ia disebabkan Singapura antara negara yang paling bersih dari rasuah? Kerana ramai bakat Malaysia yang diserap ke negara itu, kerana dasar di Singapura yang kelihatan adil, malah dapat menonjolkan politik perkauman di Malaysia, maka masyarakat Cina cenderung untuk mempercayai bahawa sistem kehakiman di situ adalah adil, dan kerajaan Singapura melayan semua pesalah yang dihukum mati dengan saksama.

Tetapi pandangan ini dicabar sekarang. Setelah menelaah buku Once a Jolly Hangman:Singapore Justice in the Dock yang ditulis Alan Shadrake, kita terpaksa menilai semula sistem kehakiman Singapura.

Jikalau dikatakan tiada diskriminasi warna kulit ketika kerajaan Singapura menguatkuasakan undang-undang, maka amatlah sukar untuk kita menjelaskan mengapa warga Singapura yang berketurunan India, Shanmugam Murugesu dijatuhkan hukuman mati, tetapi wanita Jerman, Julia Bohl yang juga dijatuhkan dengan hukuman sama, tidak perlu berdepan dengan tali gantung selepas tekanan daripada Jerman. Hukuman penjara lima tahun-nya, berakhir dengan hanya tiga tahun.

Lebih-lebih lagi, seorang warga UK Michael McRae terlibat dengan penjenayahan bunuh di Singapura, dan melarikan diri ke Australia, malah mengaku bersalah di Australia. Australia yang membantah hukuman mati enggan memberi kerjasama ketika Singapura cuba untuk mengekstradisi pesalah itu. Akhirnya Singapura yang bangga dengan ketegasan penguatkuasaan undang-undangnya itu, terpaksa berganjak langkah untuk menjamin supaya tidak menjatuhkan hukuman keras ini. Akhirnya, Michael McRae terlepas daripada hukuman mati, dan dijatuhkan hukuman penjara 24 tahun.

Pada tahun 2005, pihak berkuasa Singapura telah membenarkan peguam Australia untuk bertemu dengan warga mereka yang dijatuhkan hukuman mati, tetapi dengan sengaja menundakan pemohonan peguam dari Malaysia, Ngeow Chow Ying untuk menemui Yong Vui Kong, minggu lalu.

Secara individu, saya membantah hukuman mati. Contoh-contoh di atas diketengahkan untuk menjelaskan bahawa biarpun betapa tegasnya penguatkuasaan undang-undang sebagaimana yang didakwa di Singapura, tetapi ianya juga memegang kepada dua kayu ukur (double standard), terutamanya apabila berdepan dengan negara yang lebih maju dari segi ekonominya.

Saya cuma ingin bertanya, adakah kesalahan Yong Vui Kong lebih berat daripada kesalahan yang dilakukan Julia Bohl atau Michael McRae, sehingga Yong diwajibkan mati?

Kalau kita gagal menyelamatkan Yong Vui Kong yang jahil kerana terlalu muda, apakah kerajaan, parti politik dan masyarakat sivil dapat memastikan bahawa kita tidak akan mempunyai lebih ramai Yong Vui Kong pada masa depan?



JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politician


About givelife2ndchance

Give Life 2nd Chance is a movement dedicated to work on abolish death penalty in Malaysia.
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12 Responses to Must Yong Vui Kong Die?

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