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Death Penalty

Will Yong Vui Kong be hanged on Aug 26?

“Law Minister Shanmugam has already blurted out that they will not pardon Yong; the clemency process is thus another Singaporean farce”

Will Yong Vui Kong be hanged on Aug 26?
Susan Loone, Malaysiakini, 19 Aug 2010
(via TOC)

The lawyer for Yong Vui Kong, the Malaysian prisoner on death row across the causeway, is asking prison authorities to confirm that it will not execute his client until his rights are determined by the Court of Appeal.

M Ravi , a human rights lawyer, said he has sent a letter to Changi prison referring it to the recent High Court judgment by Judge Steven Chong.

In the judgment meted out last week, Chong had invited the prison authorities to extend the time limit (for hanging Yong) so that his lawyer could file a clemency appeal and until the court reaches a decision.

“So I have asked the prison to confirm that it will not execute Yong on the scheduled date of Aug 26,” said Ravi.

The 22-year-old Yong, who is from Sabah, may face death on Aug 26 as his clemency time period expires, if not for the recent court judgment.

He was only 18 years old when arrested under Singapore’s harsh anti-drug laws.

On Aug 13, the Singapore High Court rejected Yong’s review application, thus paving the way for his hanging.

Chong had ruled on Ravi’s application for a judicial review of the president’s powers in granting clemency, to ascertain where the powers lay.

Ravi had also requested the courts to decide on certain remarks by then-attorney-general Walter Woon in March and Law Minister K Shanmugam’s comments in April, that Ravi said were highly prejudicial to Yong’s case.

‘Denied due legal process’

Meanwhile, the Malaysian-based Lawyers for Liberty expressed shock that the High Court ruled that the president has no powers to grant clemency, and that it is the cabinet that makes the decision.

“In one fell stroke, Yong has been denied due legal process. This young Malaysian will now be executed illegally by Singapore against all known international norms,” said its representative and lawyer N Surendran.

“Law Minister Shanmugam has already blurted out that they will not pardon Yong; the clemency process is thus another Singaporean farce,” added the well-known human rights lawyer.

Surendran also criticised Malaysia for not doing anything to save Yong, apart from sending a letter requesting a pardon.

Lawyers are requesting that the Malaysian government raise the case at the International Court of Justice in order to obtain a stay of execution for Yong, pending the outcome of the case. However no steps has been taken in this direction by the latter.

“No diplomatic protest has been lodged by Malaysia despite the denial of due process to Yong. For this, the Malaysian government will be answerable to the outraged sense of justice of the Malaysian people,” Surendran added.

Seemingly hopeless

Despite the seemingly hopeless situation for Yong, Malaysians have been stepping up their campaign against the death penalty and for Yong’s prison sentence to be commuted to life.

Human rights NGOs and several other organisations have been making the rounds in night markets and other venues to collect signatures and raise awareness about the death penalty and Yong’s case.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya said that Malaysians have planned to rally next Thursday at 11.30am at the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, to show their solidarity with Yong and his suffering family.

“The protesters will demand that Singapore spare Yong from a cruel, undignified and unjust death,” said Latheefa.

“Singapore must show the world that they are not a hanging nation, impervious to the pleas of compassion and the demands of our common humanity,” she added.

Jacob 69er: See timeline of Vui Kong’s case here.

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