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Yong Vui Kong lives on, 15 years after last-minute appeal saved him from the gallows

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Yong Vui Kong lives on, 15 years after last-minute appeal saved him from the gallowa

SINGAPORE: Yong Vui Kong is alive and well, though still incarcerated, as he sees the 15th year since a last-minute appeal saved his life from the gallows.

Vui Kong’s story was well publicized after he was arrested for possession of 47.27 grams of heroin. This occurred in 2007 when the Malaysian was only 19 years old.

He received the death penalty and was scheduled for judicial execution on Dec 2, 2009.

However, two days before that date, his case was taken up by human rights lawyer M Ravi, who was able to obtain a stay of execution.

Read more: My journey with Vui Kong: M Ravi

Thus began a nearly four-year battle. Unlike the vast majority of death row cases, Vui Kong’s death penalty was lifted on Nov 14, 2013.

His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and caning, and there is a possibility that he could be released on parole after serving 20 years in prison.

Now 36, Vui Kong has been at Changi Prison since June 12, 2007, which means he has spent nearly half his life in jail and will be eligible for a parole hearing in June 2027.

However, by all accounts, he is no longer the rebel he had been in his youth. He is now a devout Buddhist and has said he wanted to counsel young people about drugs during his incarceration.

Who is Yong Vui Kong?

Growing up in a poor family in Sabah, with only his mother supporting him and his siblings, Yong Vui Kong moved to Kuala Lumpur when he was just 14 years old.

He was forced to fend for himself and quickly fell in with the wrong crowd, ending up delivering “gifts,” which turned out to be drugs.

He later went back and forth between Malaysia and Singapore with these “gifts” until he was caught by Singaporean authorities in 2007.

Under the law, his crime should have gotten him the death penalty. Due to his age, Justice Choo Han Teck, the judge at his trial, asked the prosecution to consider reducing the charge, which was declined.

Since Vui Kong asked his original lawyer to withdraw his appeal, when M Ravi took over his case, he applied to have the appeal restored, which the Court of Appeal later did.

During the years when Mr Ravi made various applications on Yong’s behalf, changes occurred in Singapore’s mandatory death sentence laws.

By mid-2012, the government agreed for prisoners on death row for drug trafficking and murder offences to apply for their sentences to be reduced to life in jail, especially for those who could prove they had only been drug couriers, had impaired mental responsibility, or could help officials in the fight against drugs.

Vui Kong, who had been a courier who helped the authorities in their anti-trafficking endeavours, was the first drug trafficker sentenced to death who had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and caning. /TISG

Read also: Drug Mule Yong Vui Kong Escapes Death

The post Yong Vui Kong lives on, 15 years after last-minute appeal saved him from the gallows appeared first on The Independent Singapore News - Latest Breaking News

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