Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Save Vui Kong

When I was in Form 5, I was part of a 3-girl debating team. One of the standard topics was 'Should The Death Penalty Be Abolished?' I was always against the death penalty. But now I'm not sure. Some of the murders and horrific cruelty that humans inflict on others make me think that there are people who deserve to be hanged. My stint in the debate team? It was short-lived; we lost the semis to a Form 4 team. Enough to turn me away from wanting to be a lawyer.

But this is not about me at 17. This is about a boy who was 18 when he was caught 4 years ago in Singapore with 47 gm (about 1 tablespoonful) of heroin, hard drug. The punishment is death, to be carried out anytime after 26th August 2010. 

As I read his story, I struggled to keep my emotions. Vui Kong was raised by a single mother in poverty. His mom became depressive and Vui Kong left school after Primary 4 (grade 4) to work. He said that he wanted the money for his mom's medical expenses. This is not a hard-core drug runner. He had a hard life. He was 18, young and misguided. Look at his photos here,  read about him and read about his case. He's just an under-priviledged , uneducated boy who grew up very poor in a broken home. We all had a much better  childhood and opportunities than he did. I believe that he has learnt his lesson. The Singapore Law Minister has said to the press that they do not want to let him off as a warning to others. Death penalty as a deterrant  is cruel, especially if the offender is young and has a strong case for reform. The case should be judged on its own. When Vui Kong was found guilty, the presiding judge felt that it was too harsh to charge the 18-year old boy under a law that carried the death penalty and asked the prosecutor to charge him under a different section of the law that carried life imprisonment. The prosecutor refused and the boy was sentenced.

The Singapore government is notoriously strict about drugs, as is the Malaysian government. However, the President of Singapore has the power to grant clemency in special cases. Vui Kong's first appeal for clemency was turned down a few weeks ago. His second and final appeal is to be handed in before 26th August. I beg you to help save him by signing the petition. He deserves another chance.

Sign the petition here NOW.


in a minute said...

hi Terri!!
i've signed the petition...

ps: i miss coming here. been totally out of the whole blogging thing the past months. coming here is like coming home, so familiar and full of lovely records on life and inspiring and moving posts like this one.

cya around! :)

Anonymous said...

My brother is a drug addict, jobless and his wife left him. I do not blame people like Vui Kong. I blame more people behind these 'runners'. Of course the runners are bad too but like you said, its case by case.

And I think drug addicts like my brother are to blame too. Nobody forced them to take drugs.

Anonymous said...

This boy has been carrying drugs since he was 15? It takes a very seasoned teenager walk through customs with 'hard' drugs. This boy was not that innocent.

Pete said...

When a convict is sentenced after a trial, whatever the sentence is, it should act as a reform to the convict but not to punish. I think he should be given a second chance.

Anonymous said...

He knew the punishment was death when caught with drugs but somehow thought he could get away with it again. I had a very hard life along with 5 siblings as my mum was a lone parent and struggled to bring 6 of us up. She was a housewife with little education. There were many days when she fed us on a packet of fried mee fun with soya sauce. Despite the years of struggle and without a father to guide us we never did what Vui Kong did. We went without things, wore hand me down clothes and had only 1 pair of shoes a year. If we wanted chocolate me and my sister would go out and collect soft drinks bottles to sell just to buy a bar of chocolate. Despite it all we never stole or took anything that didn't belong to us. Yes, it's hard for a single mum to raise a child on her own let alone a little educated woman like my mum having to raise 6 children. Vui Kong was a seasoned drug runner he knew what he was doing. Tried as I did, I don't feel very much emotions for him. I am a mother as well and It's not that I am heartless but I believe people plan their destiny. Singapore is fair and their laws are to be respected whatever colour you are.

Bunnies said...

We can all argue that he knows what he is doing and yet he did it or we can all argue that death sentence does nothing to deter would be drug runners/traffickers/carriers etc.

However, the fact remains, life is precious. Just like Terri have said, it should be on a case to case basis. Evaluation should be done on this boy to see if there is a chance for him to reform. Yes, there are some younger boys who are doomed from the start. Unreformable! If there is a chance to reform, why not give him that chance? He has afterall gone thru a hard life and it is only fair to give him another chance.

I think life imprisonment is also too harsh for a 18 years old. Perhaps he could be held in prison for say 12 years and during this time, he can be educated (given a basic education) and given training in some vocational skill and spiritual guidance.

terri@adailyobsession said...

vui kong is brushing up on his mandarin and is writing letters home in basic chinese. he has a chinese-english dictionary, is spreading his message of regret and found solace in Buddhism.

i thank the anon reader who shared her own hard upbringing n the story of how her siblings have turned out well. tt's such a wonderful turn out n i'm sure her mom taught them well. vui kong, on the other hand, has a mom who is mentally not well.not all of us do well at mothering, esp in difficult circumstances even if we want to do our best. he has 6 other siblings n they all seem decent, working young adults.

sometimes even kids from good parents don't turn out well. i know tt bc i was a very strong headed n rebellious girl n one of my sons was/is like me. many of us are born with a more disobedient nature. we like to challenge establsiments n authorities n find things out for ourselves rather than toe the line w/o a whimper. i suspect vui kong is one of us. parents of such children have the hardest time growing these kids n not all of us are equipped to handle such kids.

when i look back, i've made mistakes (i shd answer for miss philippines huh) in my life but God has been gracious n i had parents who were around n my dad was a good provider; we didn't struggle financially. sure, poverty is not the reason for a criminal conduct but in vui kong's case, it is about making wrong choices and which of us haven't done that?

what i'm trying to say is, give vui kong a chance to reform himself. the death penalty should only be for murderers and drug warlords n seasoned drug runners. i am opposed to murderers such as the two guys who killed the bulger toddler being set free after such a short prison sentence. i support the death penalty for cold blooded murders but a mistake made at 18, and it's carrying 47 grams of drugs, should be given a second chance. i think death is unecessary for such a crime.

Anonymous said...

only thing can do is pray for this guy's family and those who make used of him may have positive life change..... just like the prisoner who nail on the cross beside Christ, asking Christ to remember him when met in god's house.
Those make heartless comments are without compassion heart even they are practice any faith with compassionate mind set.

Anonymous said...

The MANDATORY death penalty for drug offence is too harsh in my opinion. Death penalty should not be mandatory. Judges should be given discretion to take into consideration the mitigating factors ie. remorse, family background. That's why we need judges. But unfortunately, the judges in Vui Kong's case has no such power.
Let's hope a clemency will be granted and pray for him at the mean time.


Anonymous said...

Most criminals are remorsed (only after they were caught and convicted) and blame their poor family background for their upbringing. So, using these factors into consideration for lighter sentence are not reasonable? So, does it mean that a person with a good family background deserves the sentence then?

I do agree that death penalty seems harsh for drug offence as compared to murders etc. Unfotunately, this is Singapore's penalty for drug offence. Vui Kong was not caught when he first committed this crime (if it had been then, I would have sign the petition). He should be well aware of this infamous law of Singapore. Yet he chose to defy the law and thought he could get away with it. He had already been given many chances to turn over a new leaf and be remorsed of his actions. But he did not until now.

May this be a lesson to the youths that they must be responsible in what they do and be ready to accept the consequences that come with it.

terri@adailyobsession said...

anon: i look at it this way. It doen't cost me anything to sign the petition but it means everything to vui kong and his family. what's so hard about signing? even if it's against my principles, i would put my principles aside for once and sign it. i'd hate to hear of his hanging and tt i didn't try the very least to help, even if the chance is almost nil.

Carson C. Cadogan said...

Has he been executed as yet?

West Indies

The Death Penalty in Singapore said...

Vui Kong is still alive in Singapore's Changi Prison, awaiting death row and his appeal against the outcome of his judicial review. Please visit http://savevuikong.blogspot.com/ for first hand updates on Vui Kong's news.

the lunch guy said...

maybe some of you may think this is off the subject but i obviously do not.

when the USA went into Afghanistan the Taliban, as dreaded as they are by some, and vilified by others, had eradicated poppy production (heroin) in their country. within a year of the USA going in to that country poppy production was back in full swing. now we are ten years along and the Afghans are supplying the world with over 90% of its heroin.

this would not happen without the corrupt government that the USA has installed, supported and financed (for its own agenda in my opinion, and which also makes them corrupt) and even the current president's brother is thought to be the head of this whole sorry mess involving poppies, and he is on the payroll of the CIA.

in SE Asia, which used to be the world leader before switching to other types of narcotic (pharmaceuticals) and bootleg branded consumer products, we see further examples of this very close to home.

my point is this. when governments, politicians, military and police facilitate this type of trafficking, which could not occur without there assistance, looking the other way for profit, and out right ignoring it at times, how would this kid have ever gotten his hands on the stuff to begin with?

we are all complicit in his crime. we are all guilty to some degree. if governments and the citizenry do not provide this boy, and others like him, with a chance equal to those who have had more (as little as that may have been), then they will continue to slip through the cracks, for whatever reason.

i am not saying he should not be punished, but the death penalty in this case surely appears to be too much.

ps - terri - i think it is very courageous of you to have put this on your blog and for you to have monitored a responsible debate about something that plagues our planet and diminishes us all as humans, the death penalty, not drugs.

terri@adailyobsession said...

lunch guy: thnk you for your input. i fully agree. in this case, the guy who got vui kong in this mess got scot free. i wonder why.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, I do feel for the boy and his family, the same way I felt for the Vietnamese boy from Australia and Shanmugam Muguresu. All of them had some kind of personal and financial problem.

But if I were to buy into all of that media-stoked sensationalism that tends to focus and fixate on the plight and impending execution of the drug trafficker, I might well miss the fact that drug traffickers are part of the chain that delivers a deadly substance that destroys many more lives and families than we can easily count.

Sure it makes for a great sob-story that someone's life is about to be snuffed out at the whim of a judge's gavel, but how many of these great advocators of "human rights" think to highlight the plight of lives destroyed by drugs? "Human rights" does not encompass just the right to be alive, it includes the right to live a life of dignity. Drug abuse takes away the right to live a dignified life, and reduces a human being to a wretched state ruled by drug pangs. Where is the outcry over that? And yes we can say it is the drug addict's decision to take drugs, so it's his or her fault, but then we can also apply the same logic to a drug trafficker's decision to carry drugs.

I do not doubt Vui Kong has learnt his lesson. It is hard to face the prospect of meeting your Maker and not be sobered and reflective about your existence. Many on death row, in Singapore and abroad, have shaped up, repented and found a divine purpose in life. I say good for them and I hope they find the forgiveness and enlightenment they crave. However, it is also true that repentance cannot always absolve consequences. There is a reason why the law must be impartial, failing which it will be impotent, and hence incapable of serving the greater good.

Vui Kong may prove by his repentance that he deserves to live and contribute. But bending the law for one individual is tantamount to rendering it useless for society as a whole. So with a heavy heart I must say no to such an exception.

Anonymous said...

"anon: i look at it this way. It doen't cost me anything to sign the petition but it means everything to vui kong and his family. what's so hard about signing? even if it's against my principles, i would put my principles aside for once and sign it. i'd hate to hear of his hanging and tt i didn't try the very least to help, even if the chance is almost nil."

I'm not same anon you are responding to but I just want to say this: signing a petition may require little physical effort, but that is not the point. If you put your signature against a petition, it means that you are indicating an agreement between your principles and the principles embodied in the petition. If the petition conflicts with your principles, I do not see the logic behind signing it.

Anonymous said...

"only thing can do is pray for this guy's family and those who make used of him may have positive life change..... just like the prisoner who nail on the cross beside Christ, asking Christ to remember him when met in god's house.
Those make heartless comments are without compassion heart even they are practice any faith with compassionate mind set."

With all due respect to anon, I don't think you understand your own faith very well. Should you not rather pray that Vui Kong will follow Christ given that Christians believe that salvation comes through Christ? Surely you must have noted that he became a Buddhist in prison.

With regard to the fellow prisoner on the cross, Christ said that he would be with him in Paradise isn't it? Why did Christ not perform some miracle so that the repentant prisoner could be released from his cross and go home to his loved ones? After all, the prisoner did repent right? Why did the prisoner still have to endure the cross till he died? Was Christ also being "heartless" then? This goes back to what I said about repentance and consequences. One does absolve the other.

Awed said...

What i strongly disagree with the Mandatory Death Penalty is that it does not leave any room for compassion

I think its very important to note that not only must the punishment fit the crime but the punishment must FIT THE Person who committed it.

and to clarify
1)VK did not know that it would amount to the death penalty
2)VK did not know that the drugs were bad

hence the intention to smuggle drugs was not there.

and if a child solider was brought up thinking that killing was right, he comes to Singapore and kill someone, would you then say that he is guilty? Since, he was brought up to think that way?

then the same analogy applies to Vui Kong.

Besides,drink driving kills but why isn't the mandatory death penalty applied to such cases?

anyway the appeal date is 17 Jan. Hope to see you there. i m really glad to see that there are people here who genuinely cares.

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