Vui Kong Appeal is Dismissed

The Court of Appeal, made up of Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and Judges VK Rajah and Andrew Phang, have unanimously dismissed Yong Vui Kong’s appeal.

Yong was appealing for a judicial review of the President’s powers in the clemency process and of Law Minister K Shanmugam’s comments.

Shanmugam’s Comments

At a community event in May 2010, Mr Shanmugam responded to a constituent’s question about the mandatory death penalty by saying that it was “a trade-off” for Singapore’s “safety and security”.

“If Yong escapes the death penalty, drug barons will think the signal is that young and vulnerable traffickers will be spared and can be used as drug mules, argued Mr Shanmugam.”
– TODAY, 10 May 2010

In his judgement, CJ Chan supported High Court Judge Steven Chong’s ruling that Mr Shanmugam’s statements “did not constitute apparent bias (amounting to predetermination)”.

He asserted that the Law Minister’s statements merely reflected “the legislative policy” of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking and that “youthfulness is… not in itself a ground for granting clemency.”

The President’s Powers

Image from New Strait Times

In the course of the hearing on the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty, then-Attorney General Walter Woon said that “[a]lthough in theory it is the President who exercises the prerogative of mercy, in fact it is the Cabinet that makes the decision.”

This statement prompted Yong’s lawyer Mr M Ravi to take out an application for a judicial review of the President’s powers in August 2010. High Court Judge Steven Chong turned down the application. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal today.

In a joint summary judgement with Justice Rajah, Justice Phang stated that “the terms of Article 22P [of Singapore’s Constitution] make it clear that the President has no discretion as to how the clemency power should be exercised in a particular case.”

“The President may only exercise the clemency power in favour of an offender in circumstances where the Cabinet has advised him to do so,” he added

CJ Chan also upheld Judge Chong’s ruling that the offender seeking clemency does not have the right to see the Article 22P(2) materials submitted to the Cabinet for them to decide on how they should advise the President.

Article 22P(2) materials include the report of the judge who tried the case, the report of the Chief Justice or presiding judge of the appellate court and the opinion of the Attorney General on the judge’s reports.

Yong VK Counsel, M Ravi

Yong VK Counsel, M Ravi

Following the verdict, Ravi expressed his disappointment. “It’s no longer the President’s clemency; it’s the Cabinet’s clemency,” he said. “So I don’t understand why the President’s office is still in existence, if he doesn’t have any work to do.”

He urged the Malaysian government to take the case to the International Court of Justice and said that he would be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Council, before the Universal Periodic Review of Singapore’s human rights record.

Members of Singapore’s civil society have also expressed their disappointment with the verdict.

“The judgement has come back in a way that makes us question what is the value of 22P, and what is the value of the choice that the President has,” said Ms Braema Mathi, President of human rights NGO MARUAH. “That is the whole thing that I find really disheartening. He holds the highest level, so where is the space for him to assert his choice?”

Yong's brother, Yun Leong with M Ravi

Yong’s older brother, Yong Yun Leong, told the media that despite losing this appeal, he would not be giving up the fight for his brother’s life.

“Both Vui Kong and I hope that Vui Kong’s story will remind young people not to be misled by drug syndicates,” he added.

Yong will now be given three months to file his clemency petition.

Reported by Kirsten Han onlinecitizen, 4 April 2011

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Read more:

1.Court dismisses Yong Vui Kong’s appeal by Yahoo! News

2. Singapore rejects drug mule’s death penalty appeal by AFP

3. Malaysian Drug Trafficker Loses Bid to Escape Death Sentence in Singapore by Bloomberg

4. The Judgement Summary – VK Appeal Judgement Summary 4 Apr 2011 (Yong Vui Kong v Attorney-General CA144/2010) .

About givelife2ndchance

Give Life 2nd Chance is a movement dedicated to work on abolish death penalty in Malaysia.
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One Response to Vui Kong Appeal is Dismissed

  1. Source Amnesty International Canada from Singabloodypore .Friends .We have learned that Yong Vui Kongs final appeal to Singapores President is expected to be heard with the coming week. It is therefore urgent that our appeals to him are sent before that decision is made. I am urging those who have not yet written to send their appeals immediately. See Urgent Action below..In June of this year Vui Kongs brother wrote a letter of apology and a plea for clemency to President Nathan. We now have permission to share with you translated excerpts of that letter .. I hereby tender my sincere apology to all the people of Singapore regarding my brother s wrongdoing. I sincerely hope that all of you will give him a chance to live by pardoning him of his death sentence and commute it into a life sentence so that as a first offender he could have an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. He is a remorseful youth now ..10-year old Vui Kong was unable to continue with his education . Initially he became a kitchen help and he fell into bad company. Vui Kong was used by the so-called Big Brother to be a runner to collect bad debts . Vui Kong himself did not consume drugs but from collecting bad debts he was slowly tasked to delivering gifts. The young Vui Kong obeyed the instructions of Big Brother who said that delivering a little bit of drugs would not lead to death. Vui Kong fell into the trap of the drug trafficking syndicate..His mother who suffers from depression does not know anything of his arrest .

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