Volunteers and members of the Thai chapter of Amnesty International were gathered in front of the Singapore Embassy yesterday afternoon shouting, “give him a second chance!” They were rallying to save the life of Yong Vui Kong, a 22-year-old Malaysian man who is on death row for drug trafficking.
Singapore’s judicial system continues imposing the death sentence and a source at the embassy, who chose not to be named, said the republic had no history of pardoning or allowing clemency to those convicted of drug trafficking.
Yong was arrested when he was 19, a minor under Singaporean law, for having 47 grams of heroin on his person. He has since found solace in Buddhism and is spending the remaining days of his life counselling fellow inmates, the protesters said.
A year ago, his case was taken over by human-rights lawyer M Ravi, who succeeded in obtaining the stay of execution a few times. However, on April 4, the Court of Appeals dismissed Yong’s request and ordered that the death sentence go ahead.
“There was a protest in Hong Kong last week,” said Sutharee Wannasiri, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Thailand. She, like the other 10 or so protesters, was also carrying a placard that read: “He has one life, just like us all”.
When asked about how much hope she had of the young man being set free, Sutharee admitted that the chances “are rather dim”, but added that at least the public would know about the case.
The pamphlet handed to passersby yesterday argued that though previous death convictions had not prevented similar crimes, “Yong telling people of the lesson he has learned in his life may”. It also called on Singapore President S R Nathan to give the convict a second chance.
“Your Excellency’s decision on his clemency plea is a judgement on whether more lives can be saved by ending one life or by allowing him the second chance to make good for the damage he has caused to society,” it read.
According to Amnesty International, at least eight death sentences were handed down in Singapore and at least seven in Thailand last year.