死刑離正義有多遠? 死囚之影藉藝術省思死刑

葉章華 (東方日報

死刑對許多人來說,是既陌生有熟悉。陌生,是因為很多人不懂,到底在犯下什麼罪後才會被判處死刑,而熟悉則是從報章上,都會看到有罪犯被法官判處極刑的新聞。

為配合第9屆世界反死刑日,隆雪華堂民權委員會及國際特赦組織,特別舉辦一個名為「死囚之影」藝術特展,讓民眾透過藝術家的作品,對死刑進行思考。

隆雪華堂民權委員會主席廖國華指出,這次藝術展,共展出12個藝術家作品,而希望透過這些作品能夠讓到場的民眾,思考死刑這個刑罰。

「死刑到底有多近,正義到底又離死刑有多遠呢?普羅大眾都不會談論死刑,反之社會精英份子都會探討這個課題,就像之前首相署所舉辦的一個圓桌會議,都有邀請一些民權分子、非政府組織等討論死刑。」

「民眾不討論死刑,也不說到底死刑好不好,是因為他們有『不會發生在我們身上』的心態,而且就算有親友被判死刑,他們也不會說出,因為擔心受到社會歧視。」

破案率比死刑更重要

他說,所以這次的展覽,就是要激起民眾的死刑的再思考,無論他們同意死刑有必要存在與否。

「而且,我們透過藝術作品讓民眾去思考死刑,是不想以強硬手段逼使民眾否決死刑,而是要把訊息帶出。」

「當然,我們的立場是廢除死刑,而且覺得死刑並沒有達到執行的目的。執行死刑的其中一個用意是要制止罪犯,但當一個人要殺另一個人的時候,因為他的衝動,他是不會去想後果。我們也認為,破案率比死刑更加重要,提出死刑這個論述,是因為執法當局已走入絕境,而且有惰性思維。」

他說,當執法單位受到社會輿論壓力、責備時,就會說死刑就是最嚴厲的刑罰。「但這其實是一種惰性,執法單位並沒有思考如何有效去制止罪案發生。以命償命是觀念,無論是東西方都有存在,但在德國就有社會學家做過研究,去訪問謀殺案受害者家屬,卻得到不一樣的看法。」

他說,研究發現一般上民眾會認為,一旦加害者被判處死刑,就已完成整個工作,但在訪問受害者家屬後,卻發現他們未必要加害者被判死刑。

「可能在事發後,受害者家屬會因為悲憤,而在霎時間覺得加害者應該被判死刑,但死刑執行後,家屬就會思考,他們有部分會認為,只要治安好,他們的家屬就不會死。所以,在歐盟,他們所提倡的是為家屬提供輔導,讓他們走過家屬被殺害的陰影,若受害者是家庭經濟支柱,還會提供他們經濟援助。因此,最重要的是協助加害者家屬,如何走過困境。」

他指出,上述的模式,重點是要協助受害者家屬,而非懲罰加害者,當然加害者也是要受到一定懲罰。

12藝術家探討生命意義

隆雪中華大會堂民權委員會副主席饒兆穎指出,這次共有12名藝術家,以油畫、裝置藝術、錄影藝術以及攝影等方式,探討死刑。

她說,是在這兩個月前,才開始邀請藝術家參與死囚之影藝術特展,而且一開始也面對許多問題,包括有很多藝術家都對死刑不瞭解。

「經過不斷聯繫,並與有意參與的藝術家討論死刑,並提供相關資料後,才有這12名藝術家,願意和我們站在一起。」

由「懺悔」角度切入

也是死囚之影策劃人之一的她表示,死刑不是唯一的刑罰,還有其他處罰的方式,因此就有藝術家從作品中探討生命的意義,而且是由「懺悔」的角度切入。

「但一個人是直接以死刑處決,他就連懺悔的機會都沒有。所以,只要民眾走完整個特展,就會帶給他們一個想法『死刑離我遠嗎?』」

她說,很多人講到死刑,並沒有去思考,只要有人說支持,他們就會盲目支持,反之,有人反對,他們也跟著反對,作出倉促決定。

「很多先進國家都廢除死刑,就算死刑依然存在,也是會留到最嚴重的罪案,才會對人判處死刑。」

「參觀特展的人,未必要決定是否支持廢除死刑,但是,在他們做決定前,應該先考慮清楚。」

她也說,死囚之影特展,是延續2010年7月,由隆雪華堂民權委員會與人民之聲成立的「楊偉光後援會」,所發起的「給生命第二次機會」醒覺運動。

她說,從楊偉光在新加坡因運毒而判處死刑,已經有民眾關注死刑,而現在則是把這項運動,轉型到社會醒覺運動。

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“In Death Row’s Shadow” Exhibition & Dialogue

Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) and the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH – CRC) are organising an Anti Death Penalty Awareness month throughout the month of October.

Using the concept of ‘creative activism’, AIM and KLSCAH – CRC will be bringing you an art exhibition, a film festival & dialogue and a public discussion with photographer Toshi Kazama! Regardless of which side of the fence you decide to perch on, you are bound to be drawn to the artistic morbidity of this series of events.

The events are in conjunction with the World Coalition’s 9th World Day Against the Death Penalty which falls on 10th October 2011. This year’s World Day focuses on the Inhumanity of the Death Penalty. The theme addresses the death penalty as a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment not just during execution but throughout the entire process.

“The mental anguish a person endures knowing that he/she is living only to be killed is incomparable to any other kind of torture”, says Nora Murat, Executive Director of AIM. In many countries, death row inmates are kept in appalling conditions. Some such as Brandon Rhode who was executed in Georgia last year were driven to the brink of insanity. Brandon Rhode had been so terrified of his execution that he attempted suicide on the morning of the day. He was resuscitated only to be executed a week later.

In Malaysia, our year has been punctuated by tales of young individuals tethering precariously on the edge of the scaffold as they await news of their fate. Yong Vui Kong and Cheong Chun Yin are hardly strangers to us anymore. Many times have we read and heard, perhaps even retold the tragedy of their naivety. Then there are the stories of starry eyed lovers and even the mentally disabled who are duped into carrying drugs!

“Everyone knows the issues surrounding the death penalty. Yet, we tend to take it for granted that it is necessary and we avoid talking about it. To some people it’s still taboo”, says Liau Kok Fah, CRC-KLSCAH Chairperson. “We hope that highlighting the issue in a less formal setting, we will be able to get more people to rethink their stand. Through arts, exhibition, film screening and dialogue, public can understand the logical discourse of death penalty, and comprehend the reasoned debate of human rights  ”.

So, dive into the inkwells of some creative minds in our Art Exhibition themed, “In Death Row’s Shadow”. The exhibition will run from 1st – 10th October 2011 at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH). On weekdays it will be open from 3.00 pm till 9.00 pm while on weekends it will be open from 11.00 am till 9.00 pm. We will be featuring an array of local, US and Singaporean water colour, acrylic painting, sculptor, and visual arts artists such as Zelin Seah, Susan Loone, Seelan Palay and Chong Kim Chiew.

Then, on 8th and 9th October 2011 we will imbibe you into the murky areas between life and death. On both days, from 2.00 pm-5pm and 7pm-10.00 pm we will be showing powerful films and documentaries on the death penalty. Can the death penalty ever be voluntary? How does one use the death penalty to rid oneself off an errant wife? Whatever the question may be, share them with us.

Finally, on 23 October 2011 experience the reality of the death penalty through US based, Japanese photographer Toshi Kazama. Toshi Kazama is an activist who photographs the faces of juvenile offenders on death row. His interest arose because as he raised his own children in USA, he was compelled to study the local criminal justice system. This opened his eyes to the problems within the system.  He also photographs death chambers in USA.

Nora Murat, says, “Through our experience, we notice that young people react better to activities which allow them to express their own individuality. So if we want people to understand that the death penalty is inhuman, we need to be able to bring this issue to level where people are able to relate and where it is tangible”.

在这个十月份,国际特赦组织马来西亚分会将连同吉隆坡暨雪兰莪中华大会堂民权委员会举办反死刑觉醒月。

在“创意行动主义”的概念下,国际特赦组织马来西亚分会和雪华堂民权委员会将为你呈现多项节目,包括艺术展,电影分享会还有与知名摄影师风间聪的公开交流会!无论你对死刑持有何种立场,你势必会被这一系列节目所呈现的艺术品所吸引。

此活动是为了配合在2001年10月10日由世界死刑联盟发起的第九届世界反死刑日。今年的世界日着重于死刑本质上的不人道。这次的主题是为了表达出死刑是一种极其残忍,不人道及侮辱人格的惩罚,其特质不仅仅表现在处决的时候,在整个过程中也是如此。

“当一个人知道他/她活着只是等待被杀死,所承受的精神折磨比任何一种酷刑更加痛苦” 国际特赦组织马来西亚分会执行董事诺拉·姆拉特如此说道。在许多国家,死囚都被扣押在极为恶劣的环境下。有些死囚譬如去年在格鲁吉亚被处死的布兰登·罗德已被折磨至濒临精神错乱。布兰登·罗德对于其处决感到无比恐惧以至于在当天早上试图自杀。他在被救活后的一个星期却又被处决。

在马来西亚,一些年轻人被拴上绳圈在绞刑台边缘摇摇欲坠的故事不时将我们的生活打断。杨伟光和张俊炎这两个名字对我们不再陌生。我们多次读到和听到,甚至也在重述着他们天真的悲剧。然后还有很多这样的故事,被爱蒙蔽双眼而意乱情迷的人,甚至是智障者都被欺骗利用运送毒品。

“每个人都知道这些围绕于死刑的课题。然而,我们总是理所当然的认为这是必要的,我们避免谈论它。对一些人来说它仍然是禁忌。”雪华堂民权委员会主席廖国华说道。“我们希望能在一些较为轻松环境凸现这个课题,这样我们可以让更多人去从新思考他们的立场。”

所以,在我们的以“死囚之影”为题的艺术特展中,你可以潜入这满满创意思维的墨井中。展览于2011年10月1日至10日在吉隆坡暨雪兰莪中华大会堂举行。开放时间是星期一至五,中午3时到晚上9时,而周末则是从上午11时到晚上9时。本次展览将由本地和新加坡水彩画家,雕塑家,和视觉艺术家为你呈现。

2011年10月8日及9日,我们会把你带入生与死的黑暗领域。在这两天,从中午2时到晚上10时,我们将呈献关于死刑的震撼电影和纪录片。死刑可以是自愿的吗?一个人怎样利用死刑来摆脱一个对自己不忠的妻子?无论问题是什么,欢迎来与我们分享。

最后,在10月23日,透过日裔美籍摄影师风间聪的作品分享死刑的体验。风间聪是一名社运分子,他拍攝多位青少年死囚的照片。由于他在美国抚养自己的孩子,这激起他的兴趣让他去研究当地的刑事司法系统。这让他看清这系统里存在的问题。他也拍摄了多张死牢里的照片。

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Poverty and drug trafficking: a denial of mercy

By Patrick Gallahue7 September 2011  (original post : Open Democracy)

Singapore has seemed to align with international law on drug executions, but a recent court decision throws that into doubt. Photograph: Scott Robin Barbour/Getty

All too often, states disproportionately apply the death penalty to the ‘small fish’ in drug trafficking organisations. That these people usually poor, often young and occasionally ignorant of the contents of their cargo does nothing to elicit mercy

Yong Vui Kong has been deprived of many things.

He was denied an education, leaving school at 11-years-old. He was denied the company of his family after he left his hometown of Sabah for Kuala Lumpur at 15 to work as an apprentice cook. More recently, he has been denied a shred of mercy.

Vui Kong is on death row after being arrested in Singapore with 47.27 grams of diamorphine when he was barely out of childhood. He was sentenced to die by the High Court in 2008 and the young Malaysian’s subsequent appeals have since been rejected.

One of the major tragedies of Vui Kong’s case is that he is so emblematic of those condemned to die for drug offences.

Last March, China executed three Filipino drug mules, including Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32. Villanueva worked in China as a domestic helper when a dorm-mate offered her a job delivering ‘spare parts.’ When she arrived in China, it turned out she had been carrying a little over 4 kilos of heroin. Her final request before facing lethal injection was for her two children to receive an education.

There are literally thousands more examples like these.

Politically, it is popular to argue that major traffickers and elite drug kingpins are worthy of the state’s strongest punishment. But common sense dictates that the Pablo Escobars of the world do not strap drugs to their bodies and cross borders.

Serving as a drug mule is exclusively the vocation of the desperate, the poor and/or the naive. Thus the severest penalties, imposed to enforce already draconian drug laws, tend to disproportionately affect the poor.

As the Global Commission on Drug Policy wrote recently, “Around the world, the vast majority of arrests are of these nonviolent and low-ranking ‘little fish’ in the drug market. They are most visible and easy to catch, and do not have the means to pay their way out of trouble. (They cannot afford bribes or bail, for example.) The result is that governments are filling prisons with minor offenders serving long sentences, at great cost, and with no impact on the scale or profitability of the market.”

Yet in 32 countries or territories drug offenders – including ‘low-ranking little fish’ – also face the death penalty, many of whom are foreigners who have been apprehended with international support.

While some policymakers would like to assume that the courts are capable of recognising a defendant’s role in the value chain of a drug trafficking organisation, the reality is that in at least 12 countries, the death penalty is mandatory for anyone caught with more than specified (often small) quantities of drugs. Judges’ hands are tied to do anything other than impose death – which does not always sit well with jurists.

In Malaysia, when High Court Justice Mohtarudin Baki imposed a death sentence on Seok Hann for drug trafficking, he said,  “I did not have any choice but impose a death sentence on you. There is not a single judge who is happy to impose a death sentence. I have searched for opportunities not to impose the death sentence on you but failed.”

This joined another case in Malaysia where the judge nearly wept while handing down a death sentence.

Courts around the world are fully aware that they are not getting the ‘big smugglers’.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafan Dolatabadi said  “Three-hundred people have been sentenced to death in relation to drug smuggling. However, these people are not the major drug traffickers … We need to move towards the big smugglers.”

This is an astonishing admission – especially considering Iran has executed drug offenders at a frantic pace, reportedly well over 10,000 drug offenders since the 1979 revolution.

And the rate is not slowing down. According to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights and Democracy report, “Credible reports suggest that the execution figure rose from at least 388 publicly reported executions in 2009, to more than 650 in 2010. Reports indicate that roughly 590 people were executed for drugs trafficking in 2010.”

A reasonable defence of these laws might be that no matter how poor or desperate these drug mules are, they made a choice that has potentially serious social impacts necessitating punishment.

But even this view wrongly presumes the courts will spare the ignorant or gullible.

In 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, protested Singapore’s pending execution of a Nigerian named Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, who was arrested with drugs as a teenager.

The trial judge appears to have accepted that Tochi might have been ignorant of what he was carrying, indeed stating “there was no direct evidence that he knew the capsules contained diamorphine.” However, according to the judge, that “ignorance did not exculpate him”; Tochi was convicted and sentenced to death. The appeal court rejected the suggestion that it was irrelevant whether Tochi had knowledge of what he was carrying. Nevertheless, it upheld his conviction, reasoning that under Singapore law such knowledge is presumed until the defendant rebuts that presumption “on a balance of probabilities”; “It is not sufficient for a defendant merely to raise a reasonable doubt.”

Tochi was executed later that year. He was just 21-years-old.

What then does it take to presume lethal ‘knowledge’ in Singapore?

Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act states that a person in possession of drugs above a specified quantity “shall be presumed to have had that drug in possession for the purpose of trafficking unless it is proved that his possession of that drug was not for that purpose.” The Act further states that people can “be presumed to have had that drug” in possession based on possessing “(a) anything containing a controlled drug; (b) the keys of anything containing a controlled drug; (c) the keys of any place or premises or any part thereof in which a controlled drug is found; or (d) a document of title relating to a controlled drug or any other document intended for the delivery of a controlled drug, shall, until the contrary is proved.”

So one had better be very careful about choosing flatmates or tenants.

The section even adds: “The presumptions provided for in this section shall not be rebutted by proof that the accused never had physical possession of the controlled drug.”

While features – such as youth and poverty – may be factors in what led people to death row they are not causes for mercy. Singapore’s Law Minister argued that softening the laws would, “send a signal to all the drug barons out there: just make sure you choose a victim who is young, or a mother of a young child, and use them as the people to carry the drugs into Singapore.”

By this logic, drug mules are executed in order to send a message to their bosses ( as if they care).

It is entirely possible that some powerful ‘bad’ people are executed for drugs. Governments could probably trot out some examples of major traffickers who were shot, hanged or lethally injected.

But all too often, states disproportionately apply the ultimate sanction to the lowest value figures of a drug trafficking organisation. That these people are sometimes young, usually poor and occasionally ignorant of the contents of their cargo does nothing to elicit mercy.

And for all the deprivations boys like Vui Kong have experienced – this denial of mercy is the cruellest of all.

This article stems from a paper presented at the 10th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific

Patrick Gallahue is a human rights analyst with Harm Reduction International and the co-author of the reports, ‘The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2010’ and ‘Complicity or Abolition? The Death Penalty and International Support for Drug Enforcement.’ Click  here to read his other article related to Vui Kong and Singapore drug policy.

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Will the president save Vui Kong?

Written by Andrew Loh (31 August 2011, posted in publichouse.sg)

Originally scheduled to be hanged on 4 December 2009, 23-year old Malaysian Yong Vui Kong is still alive today in Singapore’s Changi Prison. He sits on death row, awaiting the outcome of his final appeal to the President of Singapore for clemency which he submitted on 7 July this year. The President is expected to decide on the appeal in October.

Vui Kong, together with an accomplice, was arrested in June 2007 at Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district with 42.27g of heroin.

He was 19-years old then.

All his appeals and constitutional challenges in the courts, through his lawyer Mr M Ravi, have been to no avail. Campaigns from activists from Malaysia, Singapore and international human rights organisations have all failed to persuade the Singapore government to stay its hand. The courts have upheld the death sentence passed on Vui Kong.

His family members, who have been visiting him in prison regularly, his lawyer and activists now wait with bated breath. The expectation is that the President, who acts on the advice of the Cabinet, will dismiss his appeal. If he does, Vui Kong could be hanged as soon as a week after the President’s decision.

Vui Kong’s case has been in the news since his arrest and more so since 2009 when he was first scheduled to hang. Much have been said and done to save him from the gallows.

There is a sense of fatalism among his supporters, that his death by state-sanctioned hanging is inevitable.

Can or will the new president be able to influence the cabinet in sparing Vui Kong?

President-elect Tan was a former minister himself, serving in five ministries and being a former deputy prime minister. He would have thus been privy to the internal cabinet discussions of past capital cases and the death penalty itself. It is, however, unclear what his personal stance on the matter is. Will it matter, anyway?

It could, given that Law Minister K Shanmugam, in seeking to clarify the roles of the elected president, said: “[A] president ‘who is wise, knowledgeable and experienced’ will be able to offer advice and would be more influential than another who does not possess as much experience or wisdom, all things being equal.” He said that “the president can give advice even on areas outside of his scope.”

Dr Tan is highly-respected by the cabinet, undoubtedly. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself, even if not explicitly, endorsed Dr Tan as his preferred choice for the presidency during the campaign. In addition, Dr Tan – a second generation leader – is a trusted member of senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew’s inner circle.

Now that he is president, Dr Tan’s views and words will carry more weight – even in areas outside of the scope of his office as prescribed by the constitution.

During his campaign and in his victory speech, Dr Tan promised to work with all sectors of Singapore society, and to listen to their concerns.

The question is whether his pledge extends to non-bread and butter, economic matters, such as the mandatory death penalty under which the courts condemned Vui Kong to death.

Dr Tan, who became a Member of Parliament in 1979 and joined the cabinet a year later, had served under four of Singapore’s presidents during his time in government. In those years, three of the four presidents granted six clemencies in total to death row inmates.

President Nathan is believed to be the exception, without having granted any appeals.

Signing the execution order for Vui Kong would be one of the first solemn acts of President Tony Tan.

Whether he does so will provide a clue on where the cabinet stands on the matter and if Singapore is ready to revisit the issue of capital punishment which, as some say, is based on faulty law and inadequate safeguards in the processes.

President Tony Tan is Vui Kong’s last hope for a second lease on life. Will the new president bring his influence to bear on the cabinet and persuade it to grant mercy and perhaps even to impose a moratorium on the mandatory death penalty?

Will our society be given the opportunity to discuss and decide if imposing mandatory death sentences, even on those as young as 18 –  including girls – is justifiable and desirable?

Or will such solemn matters as ending the lives of the convicted be left in the hands of a few men in cabinet?

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怎样的新加坡容不下改过自新的杨伟光?

致2011年新加坡共和国总统候选人的公开信

2011年8月24日

敬爱的候选人先生,

我们是死囚杨伟光的家人。我们冒昧写这封信给您,因为您可能将是新加坡人民的最高代表。

伟光因为年少无知,被人利用运毒,伤害了新加坡人民,作为家人的我们感到无限愧疚,改过自新的伟光在接触佛法后更是希望能够将其余生投入于辅导狱友及警惕公众,现身说法,为新加坡反毒运动尽一份力量,作为救赎。

伟光看透人生无常,不畏生死,可是,却始终放不下命运悲苦的妈妈。我们没有伟光的智慧,更加无法用平常心看待自己挚爱亲人走上绞刑台的悲剧。每一天,我们都为伟光活多一天感到无比欣慰。每一天,我们也为伟光会不会明天就离我们而去而忧心如焚。

候选人先生,我们和您和广大的新加坡人一样,都希望自己的家人能够长命百岁,快乐平安。伟光的错误,有可能伤害了许多人的家人。如果处死他比让他活下去,能够保护每一个新加坡人的家人,我们不敢请求您和新加坡人宽恕伟光。可是,那么多毒贩在伟光之前被处死,并没能阻止他走上这条路,因为,犯案时的伟光根本不知道运送毒品会带来死刑。

处死伟光,可能会让一些本来已经知道贩毒会判死刑的人却步。让伟光留下来,却可能让更多人理解到贩毒的坏处。赦免伟光,并不是让伟光逍遥法外。他仍然需要在狱中度过余生,消耗青春。让一个人坐一辈子牢,在牢中细说一辈子的忏悔,难道不足以警世?伟光的忏悔感动了马新两国11万人,为什么我们不相信他也可以让迷途的羔羊看到迷失的自己?

候选人先生,有人说新加坡的成就与繁荣,建立在对法律与规则的一丝不苟。我们完全肯定新加坡的成功,也尊重新加坡的主权。然而,处死一个已经悔改的人,真的不是为了保护新加坡人,免于毒品之害,而是为了立威,告诉全世界:新加坡的法律不会转弯,即使法律允许的赦免权,也形同虚设。

候选人先生,这样的新加坡让人畏惧,不会让人敬爱。这样的新加坡或许可以给家境良好的精英保障,但是不会给命运多舜的小人物希望。这样的新加坡可能会在全球化的竞争中脱颖而出,但是也会让竞争的失败者绝望。这样的新加坡不允许你犯错,不允许你生命有第二次机会。这样的新加坡只会锦上添花,而不雪中送炭。

候选人先生,会处死伟光的新加坡是有效率但冷酷、完全社会达尔文主义的新加坡。我们希望您代表的是富裕而仁慈的新加坡,在当选总统后赦免伟光死刑。

富而仁的新加坡会给十多岁就离家失学、误入歧途,今天努力避免其他人重蹈覆辙的伟光第二次机会,也会给其他在竞争中失败、犯错的普通新加坡人第二次机会。

伟光代表了人的不完美,也代表了人改过向善的希望。

候选人先生,如果您当选为总统,请勿用您的签名处死这人性的希望。

谢谢。

杨伟光家人
顿首

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An Open letter to the Candidates of the 2011 Singapore Presidential Election

Appealing for a Compassionate Singapore

August 24, 2011

Dear Presidential Election  candidates,

We are the family members of death convict Yong Vui Kong. We are writing this letter to you because you may be the face representing all Singaporeans as the president.

We are extremely guilty and sorry that Vui Kong has harmed Singaporeans for being tricked into drug trafficking. After embracing Buddhism in jail, Vui Kong has since repented. He has vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to counseling prisoners and educating the public about the perils of drug trafficking. He wants to contribute to Singapore’s battle against drug trafficking as his redemption.

The pious Vui Kong sees death penalty as his karma and is not afraid of dying. He however cannot let go of our mother who has suffered depression for years.

We however don’t have the wisdom as Vui Kong does. We are just normal human beings. We cannot see our loved one walking to the gallows in calmness. We want him to live. Every morning, we are grateful that Vui Kong is alive for another day. However, every day, we are also worried that he may just leave us the next day.

Dear PE candidate, like you and all the Singaporean, we hope our loved ones can live in a peaceful and happy life for as many years as possible. Vui Kong’s wrong could have harm the loved ones of many Singaporeans.

If executing him can best protect the loved ones of every Singaporean, we will not dare pleading to you and Singaporeans to forgive and pardon Vui Kong. However, the execution of so many drug mules before Vui Kong did not prevent him from doing the same. He simply did not know that trafficking drug could cost him his own life.

Executing Vui Kong may deter some people who already know of death sentence as the mandatory punishment for drug trafficking. However, Vui Kong living to tell his life lesson and regrets can educate more who are ignorant of the consequences. Commuting Vui Kong’s death sentence is not letting him go scot free. He will have to spend the rest of his life being barred, deprived of freedom while his peers pursue their life dreams.

Will lifelong imprisonment be an incentive for people to commit crime? Will people not learn from a young man who has to grow old in prison and tell his regrets day in day out? Vui Kong’s vow to live a new life has moved more than 110,000 in Malaysia and Singapore. Why are we so adamant that he cant touch more lives and save them from the peril that destroys his own?

Dear PE candidate, some people says Singapore’s achievement and prosperity are built on an un-compromised upholding of laws and rules. We fully appreciate Singapore’s success and fully respect Singapore’s sovereignty.

But let us say this out loud: executing a fully repentant person is not about protecting Singaporeans from the peril of drugs. It’s all about asserting authority. It’s all about telling the world that Singapore’s law will not bend to the extent the constitutionally-enshrined right of seeking pardon is effectively non-existent.

Dear PE candidate, such Singapore will be feared but not loved.

Such Singapore protects elites with good up-bringing, but denies the unfortunate subalterns hope.

Such Singapore may triumph in the race of Globalisation but will also land the losers in such race in despair.

Such Singapore does not allow you to make mistake.

Such Singapore cannot afford the luxury of giving an unfortunate life a second chance.

Such Singapore smiles with the winners but shies away from the losers.

Dear PE candidate, the Singapore that will execute Vui Kong is an efficient but cruel Singapore, perfecting Social Darwinism. We hope you represent another Singapore – a Singapore that is both wealthy and compassionate. We hope you will pardon Vui Kong if you are elected as the President.

A wealthy but compassionate Singapore will give Vui Kong, who was driven to drug trafficking by lack of education and love but who now does everything he can to prevent others from making the same mistake, a second chance. The same second chance that ordinary Singaporeans who lose out and err in competition need and deserve.

Vui Kong is embodiment of both human imperfection and the hope that we can improve.

Dear PE candidate, if you are elected as the President,please don’t execute this humanly hope with your signature.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
The families of Yong Vui Kong

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Have you say sorry today?

Press Statement
Save Vui Kong Campaign
20th August 2011
This month, roughly every one in five humans in the world is celebrating the month of Ramadhan by fasting and cleansing their thoughts and acts. When the fasting month ends, Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr (Hari Raya Aidil Fitri) by seeking forgiveness for their physical and emotional trespass (“maaf zahir batin”). Forgiveness is highlighted by our Muslim friends and it is also shared by all major spiritual traditions.

Regardless of faiths and creeds, we humans have the weakness to err.

We wrong others all the time, intentionally or unintentionally. We wrong our loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers. So often we hold back from admitting our errors and saying sorry because of our pride. It only holds us back, imprisons us in our past, sears our consciences, costs us integrity and often love, respect and trust.

So many couples separated, families broken, friendship destroyed, communities divided and even nations at war simply because someone refuses to say sorry.

Owning up our errors does not undo them because we cannot change the past. It can however change the present by allowing us to start anew and giving the wronged party an opportunity to let go. It will change the future – we will be reminded not to err again, and the wronged party can live with less pain and hurt if they choose to forgive.

We are prone to lose our sense and sensibilities in the daily routine, hassles, frustrations and anger, and have no time to reflect and say sorry. On every 3rd Sunday of the Ramadhan month, we delicate this day as the “Say Sorry Day”. On this day, we reflect, repent, seek forgiveness from and grant it to each other.

This year, the “Say Sorry Day” falls on 21st August 2011.

Say sorry now, don’t wait. Life is short and unpredictable. We may not have the chance to say it in time. They may not have the chance to hear it in time. You can say it anyway you like, you can say it in more than one ways.

¤ Meet them and hold their hands to say it
¤ Call them to say it
¤ Write them a letter
¤ Send them a gift
¤ Send a SMS to them
¤ Say it on facebook
¤ Tweet @them I’am sorry

We all feel hurt and angry when wronged. It hurts the most when our loved ones do it. That’s perfectly normal, but let’s be still for a moment. Have we not wronged others in our life? Are we not grateful when the wronged parties were magnanimous to forgive us? Being forgiven then allowed us to start anew and become better people.

So, Forgive. Forgive those who sincerely seek forgiveness. Holding on their faults only imprisons us in our past, denies the present and squanders the future. Let go of the past. Forgiving others makes you a stronger and better person.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Related report:
Merdeka Review

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YVK Memorandum of Appeal Submitted to Msia Ambassador to UN

YB Datuk Chua with Dato’ Husein Hanif

Press Statement
By YB Datuk Chua Soon Bui, Member of Parliament Tawau
Dated 27th July 2011

YB Datuk Chua Soon Bui, Member of Parliament for Tawau, has submitted a memorandum of appeal on Yong Vui Kong, to His Excellency Dato’ Husein Hanif, the new Ambassador and Permanent Mission of Malaysia to United Nation (U.N) in the UN headquarter in New York in July 2011.

YB Datuk Chua briefed H.E Dato Husein Hanif that Yong Vui Kong, a young Malaysian from Sandakan Sabah is now awaiting execution in Singapore for drug trafficking, is facing injustice. Reference is made to Vui Kong’s counsel, Mr M Ravi, that the Chief Justice of Singapore, Mr Chan Sek Keong, should recuse or disqualify himself from hearing Vui Kong’s appeal as he is in position where conflict of interest occurs. The Chief Justice has rejected the application despite that it is validly made. As a result, Vui Kong suffered a breach of customary international law in as far as a fair trial has been denied to him.

Yong and his family had appealed to the Malaysian government to take the matter before the United National for adjudication in order to protect its citizen’s right to receive a fair trial.

H.E Dato Husein Hanif said he is well aware of Yong Vui Kong’s case.

He will, after consultation with Malaysia Foreign Minister, proceed on the bilateral discussion with the Singapore government on the matter raised within the United Nation platform.

YB Datuk Chua Soon Bui, who is also the vice president of SAPP, congratulate Dato Hanif of his new appointment and also his chairmanship to the 3rd Committee in the UN. His appointment to the 3rd Committee on the UN platform, responsible on social development, youth, women and children development, is very relevant to the current development of the nation and among the 193 UN countries. It’s relevancy especially to transborder crime of drug trafficking, human trafficking will no doubt help to minimize and curb the said matter.

YB Datuk Chua will follow up closely with the matter with Dato’ Husein Hanif.

Regards,
YB Datuk Chua Soon Bui

斗湖国会议员,YB Datuk蔡顺梅 已在日前(7月)在联合国总部纽约提呈一份有关杨伟光案件的上诉書于马来西亚驻联合国长駐大使Dato’ Husein Hanif。

YB Datuk蔡顺梅已向Dato’ Husein Hanif 报告了有关杨伟光的案情,一个来自沙巴山打根,现在在新加坡正等候处决的案件。她认为,杨伟光并没有受到公平的审讯。根据伟光的律师拉维先生的说法, 新加坡上诉庭的大法官,陈希强(译音)应该答应律师的申请,而退审伟光这案件,因为他的身份明显的有利益冲突。但这项申请被驳回。因此,伟光没有得到一个公平公正的审讯,他的权力已被剥夺。

伟光家人已向马来西亚政府反映,要求把这案件带到国际法庭审判,以保护国人在外国得到公平审讯的权力。

Dato Husein Hanif 表明他已被告知有关杨伟光的案件。

他会先咨询马来西亚外交部,并在这课题上跟新加坡当局以外交手腕在联合国的平台下交流。

YB Datuk蔡顺梅,也是沙巴进步党的副主席,在此恭贺Dato Hanif 的新委任,以及他任委为联合国第三委员的主席。他将负责有关社会,青年,妇女和儿童的发展,这对我国及193个联合国会员是重要和切题的,尤其是在国际贩毒,人口贩卖的方面,无疑会带来很大的帮助。

在杨伟光的案件上,YB Datuk蔡顺梅会有所跟进。

===============

Related Reports :

MP appeals for fair trial for Vui Keong (Borneo Post)

赴纽约向驻联合国大使陈情 蔡顺梅控诉杨伟光审讯不公 (當今大馬

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Yong Vui Kong Petitions President S R Nathan for clemency

The Online Citizen , by: Kirsten Han, additional reporting by: Azhar Jalil/ 8 July 2011

Lawyers representing convicted drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong have filed a petition for a presidential pardon yesterday evening, after their client’s final legal appeal was dismissed.

The 46-point petition asks that Yong, a Malaysian citizen, be granted clemency based on the following mitigating points:

• his exceptionally harsh upbringing,
• his youth and easily manipulated at the time of offence (Yong was 19-years-old), and
• the remorse and reform he has shown since his arrest with a strong prospect of rehabilitation

Yong’s lawyer M Ravi argues that the long delay between sentencing and execution – currently at two years and eight months – has helped to justify commutation in other jurisdictions.

The appeal notes that this has been an “unique and exceptional case”, underscored by how Yong’s trial has helped clarify local law while questioning the constitutionality of the mercy process here.

Yong, now 23-years-old, was arrested in 2007 and convicted of trafficking 47g of heroin into Singapore. Under the Mandatory Death Penalty stipulated in the Misuse of Drugs Act he was sentenced to hang.

The President has about three months to respond, under the advice of the Cabinet.

The Yong letters

Included in the petition are separate letters from Yong and his elder brother Yong Yun Leong pleading for mercy from President S R Nathan.

“I fully realise my mistake and I am truly repentant over my smuggling of drugs in the past. I have earnestly changed,” Yong writes.

The petition submitted that Yong is “filled with remorse” and has become a devout Buddhist and strict vegetarian, keeping a clean record in jail while learning to write English and Mandarin.

“The thing is that I have been able to display through my behaviour that the sincerity was true,” he says.

Yong’s siblings regularly visit and have been “completely amazed by his metamorphosis”.

In his own letter Yun Leong writes of his brother’s filialness to their mother, who suffers from clinical depression and has been kept uninformed by the family of Yong’s death sentence for fear of a mental breakdown.

“Vui Kong has wishes and hopes – that he can see his mother again. However how are our family members going to do this?” Yun Leong says.

Yong Vui Kong’s story

The petition includes details about Yong’s life, saying that he had been born to an impoverished and broken family with his mother struggling to raise seven children alone after divorcing.

As a child, Yong lived on his paternal grandfather’s plantation where their family was “harshly exploited by his grandfather and worked in his estate without a salary”.

The petition then says that Yong left home at 12 to seek work and ended up in Kuala Lumpur, where he fell in with gangs and leading to his involvement with a gang leader known as “Big Brother”.

“Big Brother” treated Yong well, but also threatened and tempted him into becoming a drug mule which ultimately led to his arrest.

The petition pointed out that before and during Yong’s trial, the trial judge had called both parties into chambers and remarked that Yong was only 19 at the time of the offence.

The prosecution refused to consider reducing the capital charge to a non-capital charge.

Yong was sentenced to death on November 14, 2008. He appealed against the sentence a year after, and submitted a constitutional challenge to the mercy process on July 21, 2010.

On August 25, 2010 Yong’s family presented to the Istana a petition containing nearly 110,000 signatures from Singapore and Malaysia.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong dismissed Yong’s final appeal and upheld his sentence on April 4 this year.

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【最后的12章之12】 面对死亡

野田:

首先谢谢大家阅读最后12章的信件,不知不觉中已到了最后。希望大家在这章结束后,也会继续支持“给生命第二次机会”这运动。

最后一篇,你要我讲讲死囚面临死亡时的感受。

首先,我觉得,死刑存在的意义不是报复,而是让犯人了解,让他诚实面对自己所犯下的罪行的一种方式。就我来说吧,我其实是感恩我被捉,因为这让我了解生命的意义是什么,它让我坚强。我记得我说过,以前的我,没有真正的活过。

前几天,我的律师来探望我,他说过几天就会把我最后的特赦申请信交到总统府去了。

很多死囚在执行死刑的前一晚没有机会和家人说一声再见,除了悲伤,根本就是没有心情做任何的事情。其实,很多死囚在被带出牢房的那一刻,都会禁不住的大闹大哭,再多的辅导也没有用,因为这一走,是没有回头了。是一个生命永远的不在了。这时,最痛苦的是家人,我根本不敢想像家人在外头,无助,焦急,彷徨。。。等待。等待一个冰冷的,没有生命的身体。

而对我来说,若明日是我生命中的最后一晚,我也没有其他的选择,只有黯然面对;毕竟错的是自己,我会忏悔。

你问,我会不会腿软。我真的不知道。但我想我不会,因为面对生死,我已经开始熟悉了;别忘记,在这短短的4年,我已“死”过好多次了,2007年被捉,佛祖救了我让我重生;2009年被判死刑,在行刑前律师拉维向法庭申请暂缓。我能够活到今天,一切所属幸运。

我也不奢求最后晚餐即将是个如何丰盛的一餐,我想我会照旧早上起来祈祷念经,静坐深思,素食早餐,直到夜晚的到来,穿上妹妹买给我最好看的衣服,跟其他狱友说声再见,然后再诚心向地藏菩萨叩头感谢。

但我没有办法用文字表达那种心情。我也不知道走向断头台的时候会是什么心情。我想没有人会知道吧。

听闻学修觉法,佛祖的传承,就是帮助、拥护、劝导、提醒、鼓励等等,一切正在受苦众生,迷惑众生,有国难终生,有烦恼众生,无知与无智众生,不知自控的众生等等,这些众生所受的我曾经经受,因有伟大觉者佛祖的传承众生(学者或觉者)的教导,所以我解脱很多,很自在!

也感恩社会大众能原谅我,能够活到今天已经是我最大的福分了。

我想我的家人已经接受了我,将来的情况是个怎样的结果,我觉得家人都能够接受了;他们对我的改变,对我的蜕变感到欣慰;加上在我死之前可以读读佛经,认识佛教;我的改变也改善了家人之间的关系,尤其兄弟姐妹间的感情。

只是有点担心,母亲终究会知道我已经不在的。

最后的一篇,我就以这简短的文字,写出我的感受。

我再次感谢你们,没有你们我不能够把我的故事一一道出。

感恩,我在这里替大家祈佛,愿大家健康平安喜乐!祝福你们。

伟光

English Translation:  “Facing Death”

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for reading this last letter. Time passes so quickly that this is already the last letter. I hope that when you have finished this last letter, you will still continue to support “Second Chances “Campaign.

For this last letter, I would like to talk about how I feel about facing death.

Firstly, I feel that the existence of the death penalty is not for the sake of retribution, but rather a method to allow the offender to understand and really face the mistake he has committed. Take me for an example, I am actually grateful that I was caught, because it has allowed me to understand the true meaning and purpose of life, and has allowed me to find strength within myself. I remembered I once mentioned about how the “me” before I was caught has never truly lived before.

A few days ago, my lawyer came to visit me. He told me that he will send the final appeal to the president a few days later.

On the night before the death sentence is carried out, many death row inmates have no chance to say goodbye to their families. For most of them, they are not in the mood of doing anything else other than feeling hurt and pain on the night before their sentence. Actually for most of these death row inmates, at the moment they are brought out of their room, they are unable to control their emotions, and they start to cry out loud. No amount of counseling are able to help them because once they step out of their jail room, there is no turning back, and they will be gone forever.  At this point of time, those who feel the most pain are their families. I do not dare to imagine how the family would feels when they are waiting outside to collect the cold and lifeless body of their family member.

For me, if tomorrow is my last night, I do not have a choice either, i just have to face the fact . After all , I was the one who made a mistake and I have repented.

You ask me if I would feel frightened, I really don’t know. But i think I may not be , because I have been starting to feel familiar with how it feels to face death, don’t forgot that in this short four years, I have brushed past death many times. I have “Died” many times. In 2007 when I was caught, practicing Buddhism has allowed me to “reborn”, in 2009 when I was sentenced to death, my  lawyer helped me to appeal against my sentence.  To be able to live until today is really because of luck.

I do not request for my last dinner to be anything near sumptuous, I think I will follow my regular routine of waking up in the morning to chant my scripts and meditate, followed by my vegetarian breakfast until night falls, put on the best clothes which my sister has bought for me, say goodbye to the rest of the inmates, kowtow to the Goddess to show my appreciation and thanks.

But I am really unable to express that kind of feeling and I really don’t know how I will feel when I walk closer toward the noose, I guess no one really will know.

Having listen to Buddhist scripts and Buddha teaching is a form of help, guidance, advice and encouragement. I have been through stages where I felt lost,  ignorant and  was suffering but because of my practice of Buddhism, it has allowed me to free myself.

I am also grateful that members of society are willing to forgive me, being able to live until today is my greatest fortune.

I think that my family has already accepted me, and also accepted whatever outcome it may be. They take comfort in the fact that I have turned over a new leaf, and that I have continued reading and practicing Buddhism.  It has also improved the relationship between my familY, especially amongst my siblings.

But I still worry sometimes that my mother will come to know that I am no longer around.

For this last letter, I wrote a short letter to express how I feel.

I would like to thank all of you once more, because I will not be able to share my story without your help. I will pray for you guys and I wish you health and happiness.

Vui Kong

Posted in The Last 12 Chapters, Vui Kong Letter | 2 Comments

最后的12章 之11 《谈分享与互助》

野田:

哥哥今早带来了El  从美国送来的佛书和佛牌,我很高兴。

El 是一个和我一样曾经叛逆颓废的女孩,她曾经迷茫过,不知人生目标是什么,也因为毒品差一点就入鬼门关。

不过今天的El 已是个很积极很有爱心的女孩,她说我的故事改变了她的人生观,她积极的参与辅导工作,希望能帮和她一样的迷途羔羊。这是她写给我的信,我看了很感动。

“You have given me lots of thing in the little time。 I’ve known you but one thing you’ve given me that I never expected and not many can do is Life.

I don’t think I ever had one till I heard of you. I only hope I can help get you yours back in return. Because nothing else is as valuable as your gift to me. I thank you for all that you do.

You have given me guidance and I will use it well and live it threw till my very end. You opened my eyes, mind and heart and shown me what living truly is and that life is worth living.

You are my guidance and I will pay it forward in your name for eternity. You will not go unheard. I would take your place in a heart beat.

Your name is and will always be worth something. I will not let you down.

Thank you Vui Kong. I love you.

Sincerely, Ely ♥

我很感恩,也很高兴我的故事能改变其他人。

我庆幸我认识了佛祖!我的人生就此做了一个大改变。没想到还能拉了El 一把!而这种得以互助的缘分,亦是人与人之间最珍贵的缘分之一。

我此刑的這段期間從Queenstown Remand到現在,所見聞的事情,一次比一次增廣。除了自己有了修心的机会,和这里的狱友及狱卒分享自己的体会对我来说也是重要的体验。我常和他们谈人生看法和佛经。

我常常开导狱友,隨著自己在過去自己的選擇、決定、命運與一切所作所为,而招至今天沒有身體自由,現今這能面對自作自受的因緣觀。悲的現實問題出現就隨著悲,樂的事現前就隨著樂,普通日子就隨著因緣,若遇到不如意事發生,就自我反省問題,簡單的說,隨順機緣。

我时时和他们说珍惜當下就是美好的人生。美好開心,是自己可以選擇的。多照顧自己,也多選擇開心和好的事。我也鼓励大家多向师父學佛,多修最有力量的法門。

佛祖,真的很有智慧,什么都了解和明白!

如果人的心灵没有真实依靠,那他的现在、将来、来生都没有希望,也不得安心和快乐。我有多方面都无知不认识,不过依靠佛祖的教法,真的不会感觉会有不能解决的问题!

智慧、慈悲、道德、和文化正覺,是沒分種族年齡的,只要自己努力的學習就能得到好的結果!有好的理念,時間長了就可成為自己的觀念,有了完善的觀念,那前途就無限光明。

最后我想与你们分享我最欢喜的偈语《三生因果偈》

欲知前世因 今生受者是

欲知后世果 今生作者是

感恩,阿彌陀佛!

伟光合十

El (far right) started a Save Vui Kong Campaign in US last August 2010, and she promise she will continue to do so.

English Translation

The Eleventh Letter:  About Sharing and Mutual Aid

Yetian:

This morning my brother brought the Buddhist books and amulets that El sent from America. I was very happy.

El is, like me, someone who once had been decadent and rebellious. She was confused too, and didn’t know what her goals in life were, and she almost lost her life because of drugs.

But today El is a very positive, very loving girl. She said my story changed her outlook on life. She is now actively participates in counselling and humanitarian programs, and hoping to help other lost sheep like herself.

This is a letter that she wrote to me, and I was very touched to read it:

 “You have given me lots of thing in the little time I’ve known you but one thing you’ve given me that I never expected and not many can do is Life.

 I don’t think I ever had one till I heard of you. I only hope I can help get you yours back in return. Because nothing else is as valuable as your gift to me. I thank you for all that you do. 

 You have given me guidance and I will use it well and live it threw till my very end. You opened my eyes, mind and heart and shown me what living truly is and that life is worth living. 

 You are my guidance and I will pay it forward in your name for eternity. You will not go unheard. I would take your place in a heart beat.

 Your name is and will always be worth something. I will not let you down. 

 Thank you Vui Kong. I love you. 

 Sincerely, El

I am very grateful, and also very happy that my story can change others.

I am glad that I know Buddha and my life have changed greatly since then. I never imagined I could change Ely too! And this kind of fated mutual benefit is one of the most precious blessings between people.

From the time I was at Queenstown Remand till now, my knowledge has grown and grown. Apart from my own opportunities to meditate, sharing views and feelings with my fellow inmates and wardens are also an important experience for me. We often talk about our views on life and Buddhism.

I often counsel my fellow inmates, the reason we don’t have the physical freedom today is due to our choices, decisions, destiny and actions in the past, and now we are facing our self-inflicted fates and consequence. When it is happy we are happy, when the reality is sad we are sad as well, and we let our fate decide our days. If unhappy things happen, we should reflect. Simply put, we follow the opportunities and fates.

I often tell them to cherish the moment. To be happy is a choice that they can make. Take care of yourself, and also choose to be happy and do good. I also encourage everyone to study Buddhism and study the most difficult philosophies the most.

Buddha is really wise, he understands and knows all!

If a person’s mind and soul does not have something real to rely on, he will have no hope in his present, future and next life, and will not be able to be at peace or be happy. Although I am ignorant in many things, but I rely on Buddha’s teachings and I do not feel that there is any problem that cannot be solved!

Wisdom, compassion, morals and culture do not discriminate between race and age; as long as you study hard you will get good results! If you have a good view and principle in life, after a long time it will develop into your own concept, and with a perfect concept your future will be very bright.

Lastly, I would like to share with you my favourite Buddhist hymn on Three Life Karma

If you would like to know what happened in your past life, then look at what are your sufferings in this present life.

If you would like to know what are your fates in the future life, then look at what you have done in the present life.

Amitabha.

Vui Kong

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給楊偉光第二次機會

东方日报/杜景宏

詩巫讀者6月21日來稿,認為楊偉光好傻好天真,還引述了法官和小偷青梅竹馬的故事。只是法官判了小偷罪名成立,服刑後還能重新出發,但是死刑犯不能重新開始。嚴刑峻法故能起一時警惕作用,為求長治久安還是必須以包容體諒出發,潔淨人心。

新馬毒品法令為人所詬病,就是其精神違背了英式法律強調的「若無法證,人皆無罪 」。因此,本地若某人遭執法單位指控販毒,需竭力證明自己無罪。此外,類似案例鮮少獲得法官酌情審判,也從未考慮被控者背景。就如殺人案列,可以因犯人當 時精神、情緒、與受害者關係等等客觀條件酌情審判。還有,判刑目的不盡然是為了懲惡,也包含給犯罪者機會重新改過;惟死刑犯卻被剝奪了重新出發機會。

筆者前些時候出席於隆雪華堂主辦關於死刑的講座會,演講嘉賓之一拉維先生是楊偉光的辯護律師。拉維先生揭露新加坡當局在處理死刑方面的爭議:首先, 法官從無寬容對待弱勢群體,強調以儆傚尤,但是這從來就無法打住毒梟的覬覦。第二,楊偉光雖然認罪,考慮他來自於弱勢群體,若有同理心應該給予寬赦的機 會,惟掌有赦免權的總統原來還必須面對內閣的咨詢。而律政部長尚慕根卻在法官審理上訴前,發表認為楊偉光不能獲寬赦言論,被視為左右了法官的裁決。寬赦的 精神,應為國家原諒了某人因弱勢所犯的罪,凸顯國家的公平。

的確,人應當為己身所犯之罪負起責任,就如偷竊傷人須坐監。但是死刑犯除了一死應社會之譴責外,應該還有更積極的贖罪方式。就如偉光坐監時期,皈依 佛門誓言若或赦免,將窮盡一生宣揚毒品之惡,努力輔導迷途青年讓悲劇不再重演。理智如你我,明白這些年月日的嚴刑峻法無法阻嚇罪行的發生。破個例,讓偉光 成為最好的反毒大使也是一樁美事。相信成熟社會如新加坡,斷不可能因寬赦偉光一人,而動搖國本。

以人道而言,讓迷途的弱勢群體重獲新生,也是我們這些年月日所追求的社會平權。望詩巫讀者能體會偉光家人之憂心,念及偉光年少和弱勢,也望詩巫讀者能和我們一起為楊偉光爭取第二次機會。善莫大焉。

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給楊偉光的一封信

东方日报/詩巫讀者

致楊偉光,祝你平安。

閱讀了6月15日刊登的「《最後的十二章》之九」,心中除了感慨,還是感慨……還記得曾閱讀過一則小故事(據聞是真實故事):

一名偷竊慣犯被控上法庭,聞判後,他大聲吶喊:「不公平!這都是命運的錯!如果我不是出生貧民窟,我就不會因為付不起學費不能上學。我沒學識,找不 到謀生的途徑,才被迫幹起違法勾當。」法官聽後,冷靜地問了一句:「你還認得我嗎?」他定睛一看,原來法官就是兒時住在隔壁的男孩。

偉光,看了這則故事,你有什麼感想?

大馬不知還有多少窮苦人家,雙親為了讓孩子餬口,從早忙到晚。他們的孩子甚至因為繳不起學費,自小得背負起工作養家的責任。這些家長都沒什麼時間陪 伴孩子,而他們的孩子也沒機會接受高深教育,為何沒成為罪犯?相信你的祖父也不是家財萬貫的富家子弟,你的父親成為罪犯了嗎?(楊老先生,請恕晚輩失禮 了)

假如你只是一個幾歲大的兒童,極可能會因為父母的忽略,損友的影響而犯錯。可是隨著年齡的成長,智力正常的人都能開始明辨是非。那麼你所犯下的罪案還是該歸咎於誤信損友嗎?還是你選擇了相信損友?

什麼叫做「……所以給人家欺騙,讓我相信送毒品不會導致死刑,結果愚蠢的我就這樣一錯再錯!」這聽起來就像:我被人家欺騙,我不知道刀會刺死人!即 便你真的不曉得運送毒品會導致死刑,那你總該知道運送毒品是犯法的吧?是不是如果運送毒品不必被判死刑,你就可以長期幹下去?是不是如果刀不會刺死人,你 就可以拿著它繼續傷人?

小學二年級誤解了同學的一句話,就給你添加了學壞的勇氣?那我真替你的同學喊冤,分明是你自己心裡存有學壞的念頭,才會導致你誤解他的語義。換句話說,即使當時他說的是另一句話,你極可能還是會把它詮釋為鼓勵你學壞的語句。

請恕我直言,依我個人愚見,你的文筆雖充滿悔意,但字裡行間還是想把招致你今天下場的主因,有意識或無意識地推卸一部份給別人或環境。這種個性才是導致你墮落的真正主因!換句話說,你是擁有「除非碰到頭破血流,否則絕不承認最大的錯誤在於自己」的倔強個性。

我不否認環境及外人的影響力,但這些都無法把你致死,致死你的人其實是你自己。因為無論環境怎麼逼你,外人怎麼誘惑誤導你,最後作決定的還是你自己啊!

新加坡是世界上以執法嚴厲聞名的其中一個國家,我不知道你獲特赦的機會有多少;心疼的是那些關心你的至親在閱讀了你的文筆後,他們的心靈是否也一樣地被判了死刑。

還有三章就到末章,既然你開始學佛,希望可以從你的文筆中見到你「悟性的成長」。我會為你祈禱……

詩巫讀者 字

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Singapore: Drug Laws & The Death Penalty

International Business Time | By Palash R. Ghosh | June 22, 2011 8:37 AM EDT

Singapore, one of the world’s most dynamic, energetic and powerful economic engines and financial hubs, is widely admired and envied.

However, the wealthy city-state has a dark underside.

(Photo: Creative Common) Singapore, like much of Southeast Asia, has very draconian laws, particularly with respect to drug trafficking – for which, a conviction often leads to the death penalty.
(Photo: Creative Common) Singapore, like much of Southeast Asia, has very draconian laws, particularly with respect to drug trafficking – for which, a conviction often leads to the death penalty.

Singapore, like much of Southeast Asia, has very draconian laws, particularly with respect to drug trafficking – for which, a conviction often leads to the death penalty.

For example, any adult (aged 18 or above) convicted of trafficking (or possession for the purpose of trafficking) at least 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine or 500 grams of cannabis, faces mandatory execution.

Amnesty International, which has long criticized Singapore for its harsh and unyielding form of criminal justice, estimates that at least 400 people have been executed in the island since 1991, mostly on drug-related convictions.

Thus, given its small population (about 5-million), Singapore has one of the world’s highest rates of executions per capita.

“Death sentences continued to be mandatorily imposed in Singapore, mostly for drug-related offences and mainly against foreign nationals,” Amnesty once said in a statement [although the Singapore government had produced figures which contradicted that assertion.]

Moreover, Singapore has defended its drug policies. During the 2009 session of the UN Human Rights Council, the government said in a statement: “We strongly disagree that States should refrain from using the death penalty in relation to drug-related offenses. The death penalty has deterred major drug syndicates from establishing themselves in Singapore.”

Vui Kong and his mum

At present, there has been much media focus on Yong Vui Kong, a young Malaysian man who was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Singapore. Yong has exhausted all appeals and now faces a hanging, despite pleas from his own government.

International Business Times spoke to two Singapore-based lawyers about the country’s drug laws.

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee is Assistant Professor of Law at the School of Law of Singapore Management University.

Michael Hor Yew Meng is a Professor of Law at National University of Singapore

IB TIMES: Drug-trafficking laws in Southeast Asia, especially Singapore, are the toughest in the world. Why is this?
HOR: For Singapore, in any event, it probably has to do with the strong emphasis on governmental efficiency and effectiveness and the weakness of any internal lobby against draconian criminal justice measures.

IB TIMES: Can you estimate how many people Singapore has executed for drug trafficking offenses over the past ten years (or any recent time period for which data is available)?
HOR: As far as I am aware, there are only two sets of publicly available execution figures and these show that from 1999-2003 there was an average execution rate of 27.6 persons annually. This is to be compared with the figures for 2007-2009, when the average dipped to 4.6 persons annually.

IB TIMES: How has the Singaporean government reacted to criticism of its death penalty practices from Amnesty International and other Western groups?
HOR: The explicit reaction has been to stress its position that the decision to impose capital punishment is a matter within the sovereignty of Singapore and not something which is governed by international law — simply, it is not the business of Amnesty or other Western lobbyists.

IB TIMES: Has Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, made any plans to ease the death penalty laws?
LEE: The Government has affirmed that in its view the death penalty has an important deterrent effect. As such, it has not indicated any intention to abolish the death penalty or reduce the number of criminal offenses attracting the death penalty.

IB TIMES: Are most death penalty convictions in Singapore commuted to life sentences?
LEE: No. Most death penalty convictions are carried out. My impression is that only a handful of such convictions have been commuted to life sentences, usually because the prisoners are suffering from a terminal illness.
I recall one case a number of years ago involving a woman with cancer whose sentence of death was commuted.
HOR: There are no published figures, but it is believed that commutations are extremely rare.

IB TIMES: Despite the severe drug laws, does Singapore have a problem with drug abuse?
HOR: I think it would be fair to say that there is nowhere in the world which does not have a drug problem, but it is also the general perception that the situation in Singapore is well under control. The question is whether the existence and use of capital punishment has materially contributed to this state of affairs.

IB TIMES: Does the Singaporean public generally support the harsh drug laws?
LEE: Yes, my impression is that most people generally support harsh drug laws, and the death penalty.

IB TIMES: Does the Singapore constitution allow for the death penalty for other serious crimes, like murder, rape, etc.?
LEE: Article 9(1) of the Singapore Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty, save in accordance with law. Thus, the Constitution envisages that a person may be deprived of life (that is, the death penalty may be carried out) so long as legal procedures are adhered to, and it is not possible — barring a constitutional amendment — to argue that the death penalty is per se unconstitutional. Legal challenges to the manner in which the death penalty is carried out (namely, that hanging is a form of inhuman punishment or treatment) and to the mandatory death penalty for certain drug offences have so far been unsuccessful.
The death penalty is not imposed for rape, but is a possible punishment for other offences such as murder, treason, piracy endangering life, and certain kidnapping and arms offenses.
HOR: The current judicial interpretation of relevant Singaporean constitutional provisions is that the death penalty is not inherently unconstitutional.

IB TIMES: Would you describe Singapore as a democracy?
LEE: It depends on what you consider the elements of a democracy to be, but in general, I would describe Singapore as a democracy. We have regular elections at which voters have freely returned the People’s Action Party to power since 1959.
On the other hand, if you define a democracy as requiring broad freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, then it might be said that Singapore is somewhat lacking in this regard as there are various restrictions on these rights.
For example, it is necessary to apply for a permit to hold a political demonstration, and the Government has said that it is not its policy to grant such permits for demonstrations to be held in outdoor locations because of the possibility of public disorder. (Events in indoor locations such as auditoria are allowed, and permits are not required for demonstrations held at Speakers’ Corner if the participants are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents.)

IB TIMES: Are there human rights organization within Singapore itself seeking to abolish the death penalty?
LEE: I am aware that there are some activists who have called for the abolition of the death penalty, though I am not sure if they are organized into any formal association.
HOR: There are a handful of organizations which have expressed dissatisfaction over either the death penalty, or the manner in which it is applied in Singapore. For example, Maruah (http://maruah.org/); and The Online Citizen (http://theonlinecitizen.com/?s=death+penalty).

IB TIMES: What do you make of the case of Yong Vui Kong, the young Malaysian man sitting on death row in Singapore for drug trafficking? Is the Malay government applying pressure on Singapore to reduce his conviction? Is he becoming a “cause célèbre” of sorts?
LEE: I believe that there were some calls from Malaysian activists and possibly even Malaysian Members of Parliament for Yong’s sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment, but I find this rather ironic because as far as I am aware Malaysia also has the death penalty.
I do not sense that Yong is becoming a cause célèbre – since the final dismissal of his case, there has been little in the news about him.
I was not surprised by the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the Yong Vui Kong case, as it essentially reaffirmed legal reasoning that had been applied in the earlier case of Nguyen Tuong Van, a Vietnamese-Australian drug trafficker who was eventually executed.
The Singapore courts tend to be quite conservative where interpretation of the Constitution is concerned, and I did not think it was likely that the Court of Appeal would ‘discover’ a prohibition against inhuman punishment and treatment in Article 9(1) as it does not expressly state so.
HOR: The problem with Malaysian attempts to persuade the Singapore government not to execute Yong Vui Kong is that Malaysia itself has and uses a very similar set of drug laws which prescribes the mandatory death penalty.

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最后的12章之10:《毒品与死刑》

野田,

你曾经说要我谈谈毒品与死刑,我说我没有资格谈这问题,因为我本身就是因为毒品而被判死刑的人,而且,我对这问题也没有好好思考过。

你再次提起了这问题。

在这里的人,都是被判死刑的人。而大多数,是因为毒品。有的年纪比较老,但大多数是年轻人。他们都是经过审判,上诉失败,有的在等总统的答案,有的在等他们的“时间”到。他们都有自己的故事。

哥哥有提过一个死囚,他叫俊炎。相信报纸上也有报道过。运良他每星期一都会见到俊炎爸爸,有一次在监狱外,他爸爸还叫运良签名。

拉维律师也有提过,他的故事是这样:俊炎的爸爸妈妈离婚,他跟爸爸住,也帮爸爸在早市夜市摆摊子卖衣服和光碟。他认识了一个常客。这常客成功说服他,要他帮忙从外国带金条到新加坡。所有的安排都由这常客负责。但原来,暗藏在行李箱的不是金条,而是毒品。俊炎一直都不知道里面是毒品,直到警察撕开行李箱的内侧。他向法庭说出了这个故事的来龙去脉,也说出了这常客是谁和他的手机号码。但法官不相信他的话。律师跟我说,警察没有尽全力的追查这个人,而法官也不认为这很重要。

我不是律师,可是还是我想不通,为什么不去追查这个人?很多时候,就是因为这些人,我们会变成这样。找到这个人,不就能证明俊炎是不是在讲骗话吗?俊炎被关在这里,他自己怎么找?

我开始在想,会不会有真的被冤枉的人?是不是所有的审讯都很公平?如果被冤枉而又被吊死,那不是很惨吗?

我之前有说过,我隔壁的狱友。他很年轻,他已经死了。我有跟他谈过很多话,他没有说起他的事,可是我觉得他是一个很天真,很无知的小孩。他不能面对死亡。那一天的凌晨3点,他被拖出去,他的哭声,让我的心很痛,我不断的念经,希望他减少痛苦。我在想,像他这样的一个人,怎么会变成一个危害社会的毒贩?

那一次后,我对狱官说,虽然我是有错,但背后安排我的人也有错,我要停止他再伤害其他人,我向警方说出了那个人是谁。过后怎么样,我不知道。我听律师说,他被扣留了,但是没有证据,所以没有被提控。

还有一件事,我一定要说。大概2个月前,有一位狱友,他的年纪比较大。他的上诉成功,已经被放出去了*。我问律师为什么,不是说上诉很难的吗?几乎没有几个成功过吗?律师跟我说,上诉庭的决定是这样的:这个囚犯带了很多不同种类的毒品,其中一种是海咯英,他向法庭解释说他不知道其中含有海咯英,法庭相信他,认为他真的不知道,所以放了他。律师还开玩笑的跟我说,如果俊炎说他知道那是毒品,可是不知道是海咯英,可能还有机会。

律师也乘机会跟我解释有关毒品的法律,说什么被发现身上有毒品就假设有罪,有超过多少分量的毒品就被假设是贩毒等等,我不是很懂,可是我觉得这很重要。很多人就是因为不懂,然后这法律对自己的不利,最后被判死刑。

看了这些案件,我觉得很奇怪,为什么法庭可以相信这个不相信那个,到底是以什么标准,什么态度来对待毒品的案件和死刑?律师有跟我解释说,可是太复杂了,我不是很懂,也不敢在这里说。

我想我能够说的,就是奉劝读者去了解这法律吧!

伟光

20/6/2011

*后记:伟光提起上诉成功的狱友并没有被放出去,只是由死刑改为其他判决

English Translation :

The Tenth Letter : Drugs and the Death Penalty

Yetian, you once asked me to write about drugs and the death penalty, but I said that I did not have the right to discuss such an issue because I myself have been sentenced to death because of a drug offence. Also, I had not really thought deeply enough about this issue.

Recently, you have asked me to write on the matter again.

Everyone here in this prison block has been sentenced to death. Most of them are on death row for drug offences. Some of the inmates are old, but most are young. They have all been through their trials and lost their appeals. Some are hoping for clemency from the Singapore’s president, others are just waiting for their “time” to come. They all have their own stories to tell.

My brother, Yun Leong, knows another inmate – his name is Chun Yin. I believe the newspapers have reported his case before. Every Monday (death row family visit day), Yun Leong sees Chun Yin’s father at the prison. Once, outside the prison, Chun Yin’s father even asked Yun Leong to sign a petition to save Chun Yin’s life.

My lawyer, M Ravi, also mentioned his case to me before. His story is like this: after Chun Ying’s parents divorced, Chun Yin stayed with his father and helped him run stalls selling clothes and VCDs in the morning and at night markets in the evening.

He got to know a regular customer. This customer convinced him to go overseas and bring gold bars into Singapore. All the arrangements were made by this customer. But it turned out that hidden in the bag were not gold bars, but drugs. Chun Yin did not know that drugs were hidden in the bag until the police ripped open the lining of the bag.

He told the court everything, including the identity of the customer and his phone numbers. But the judge did not believe him. My lawyer told me that the police had not done their best to trace this other man, and the judge did not think that it was important.

Naive and ignorant kid

I am not a lawyer, but I cannot understand why they didn’t look for this man. Often it is because of people like him that we are in such a situation. If this man was found, wouldn’t we be able to find out if Chun Yin was telling the truth or not? Chun Yin is currently locked inside here, how can he find the truth himself?

I am beginning to wonder whether there are people who have been wronged. Are all the sentences really fair? If a person has been wronged and hanged, isn’t it extremely tragic?

I have mentioned my next door inmate in one of my earlier letters. He was hanged. Before he died, we talked about a lot of things. He never mentioned his case, but I feel that he was a very young, naive and ignorant kid. He could not face the fact that he was going to die.

That morning, he was dragged out of his cell at 3am. His cries of fear made my heart ache. I kept chanting Buddhist verses, hoping that his suffering would end.

After that, I told the prison warden that even though I am guilty, so is the person who was responsible in making the arrangements for me to carry drugs. I wanted to stop him from harming more people, so I told the police who this person was.

I don’t know what happened next. I heard from my lawyer that he had been detained, but there was no evidence, so he was not charged.

Guilt is presumed

There is still one more thing that I must talk about. About two months ago, there was another inmate. He was older. His appeal was successful and he was released**. I asked my lawyer why; isn’t it very difficult to win an appeal?

The lawyer told me that the Court of Appeal’s decision was like this: this person brought in many different types of drugs, and one of these was heroin. He told the court that he did not know that one of these drugs was heroin.

The court believed him and said that he really didn’t know he was carrying heroin, and so he was released. The lawyer even jokingly told me, if only Chun Yin had said that he knew he was carrying drugs, just not that the drug was heroin, he might have had a chance.

My lawyer also took the opportunity to explain to me the law regarding drug offences, saying that as long as drugs are found on you, guilt is presumed. And if you are carrying more than a certain amount, you will be presumed to be trafficking.

I don’t fully understand, but I think this is very important. Many people don’t know about this, and when they fall on the wrong side of this law, they are sentenced to death.

I find it very strange learning about these cases. How is it that the court can believe this person but not that person; what is the standard and attitude adopted towards drug cases and the death penalty?

My lawyer has tried to explain it to me, but it is too complicated for me and I don’t quite understand so I don’t dare to talk about it here.

I suppose what I can say is to encourage all to go and understand the law.

Yours faithfully,
Vui Kong

**Note: The man Vui Kong mentioned to have won his appeal did not get acquitted. He only had his death sentence overturned, and received a different sentence.

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