Yong Vui Kong

The story of Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian, is like a story out of a Hong Kong’s gangster movie. Left home at the age of 12, he first followed a gambler before eking out a living on the streets. He eventually left for the big town and ended up working for a syndicate. Unlike the movie though, he did not become the trusted lieutenant or usurps the big boss. Instead he ended in death row in Singapore and all this before even turning 21! 

Seems like his boss made use of him as a mule to smuggle drugs into Singapore. Of course inevitably he got arrested and under our law, the judge had no choice but to pass the mandatory death sentence (MDR). He has been in jail since 2007 when he was arrested at the age of 18. Supposed to be put to death in December 2009, he has had 2 temporary reprieve as his lawyer tries and pulls out all stops to get the death sentence set aside.

The local and even the Malaysian media has been relatively low key on their coverage of this. Malaysia too has a similar death penalty law so I guess another death of a Malaysian isn’t worth reading. But, very vocal in their criticism of the sentence is of course the various Western NGO like Amnesty International, and back here, The Online Citizen (TOC) for short. There was also a petition that was circulated petitioning the President to commute the sentence to a life sentence.

The gists of the appeals are that the MDP is barbaric and draconic and it does not give the Judges any option of sentencing. Some argued that Yong was young, got misled and fell into bad company, didn’t know what he was doing and on compassionate ground, deserve a second chance. Some people talked about the family of Yong who are left to pick up the pieces. Others talked about Yong’s life – that it is a waste of a young life. But did they consider the number of lives and families lost as a result of Yong’s action. If we do not have the MDR, how many more runners will there be in Singapore and consequently how many more innocent lives will be lost?

While I am saddened that a young life has to be snuffed out, and while I agreed that the death penalty is a very barbaric tool of punishment, somehow I am not convinced of the merits of the appeal. Sure, it will be great to save a life but at what cost to society? As the Law Minister rightfully pointed out, if we give weight to his age and background, would that not encourage the syndicate to use younger people? Already, the trend by oversea syndicate seems to be to use ladies as mule and it will be a nightmare of unimaginable proportion if they start using teenagers to do their drug running!

Yong has been running drugs since the age of 17. I doubted his argument that he did not know it was drug. He went in with his eyes wide open. There is a price to be paid for everything and in his case, he has to pay the ultimate price.

Yes, some argue that come what may, there will be drug traffickers and the problem will never be eradicate even with the MDR. So we might as well follow the example of the other countries that has outlawed the death penalty since it is of not much use. I beg to differ. It is sad but if his death can deter just 1 more person from trafficking in drug, it will be worth it. Do we want to be like Amsterdam where there are legalized drug taking and all social ills associated with it are swept under the carpet? Do we want to be like Mexico where drug barons slug it out openly in the streets killing innocent bystanders? No ~ until some people can come up with a better solution, the MDR should stay and all those, whether young, old, female or gay or whatever, be warned!

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