Singapore: Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

Yong Vui Kong, a 21 year old Malaysian, was convicted by Singapore's High Court in 2008 of trafficking 42.27g of heroin and given the death sentence, mandatory for offences involving more than 15g of the illegal substance. He claimed that he was just a drug mule and was tricked into carrying the drugs. He filed an appeal but told his lawyers later to withdraw it, one week before the hearing in April.

In December last year, represented by Mr M. Ravi, he was given the chance to file a new appeal. The Court of Appeal said it had a duty to hear new legal arguments even after a criminal case had come to a close, especially if it involved the death penalty.

Most bloggers are against the death penalty, pointing out that many countries have done away with the death penalty and a teenager shouldn't be sentenced to death.

Singaporean blogger, Andrew Loh, wrote in his post on advocacy journalism blog, The Online Citizen:

Many countries have reversed their positions on the MDP. And all countries have pride. Yet, these countries perhaps placed a higher value on human life than national pride – especially when there are compelling reasons to do so.

And with the mandatory death penalty in Singapore, there are indeed compelling reasons for us to re-look the legislation.

Singaporean activist blogger, Rachel Zeng wrote:

However, I do hope that the humanity and logic existing within the judges will help them see that this young boy does deserve another chance to make up for his grave mistake – something that he did not realised until he was told after his arrest that heroin was not as ‘harmless’ as tobacco

Singaporean blogger, Xue Jianyue wrote:

Sentencing Yong Vui Kong isn’t going to solve the problem of the trafficker employing people of his age to smuggle drugs again and again because people like Kong, who is poor, unaware and desperate, can always be found in any society and tricked by drug smuggling rings.

He also argues that teens shouldn't pay the price for their ‘ignorance':

There is a difference between a person committing the crime knowing of the consequences and a person not knowing of the consequences. We should not hasten to punish both of them with the same penalty.

Singaporean blogger, Terence Lee, wrote:

And so what if a person is guilty? It makes no sense to punish a drug mule while the drug lord is left to hire another desperate drug trafficker.

And why the harsh treatment? Do trafficking drugs equate with a more severe crime like murder, and therefore equally deserving of the dealth penalty?

Where is the justice in that?


  • For murder and drug trafficking in Singapore, the death penalty is mandatory. The “mandatory” clause means judges have no discretion to apply a lighter sentence, even if the drug offender is a teenager or have mitigating factors.

    The law concerning the death penalty for drug traffickers is rigid and outdated, with no regards to factors such as age, background of the offender and other special circumstances. That is why we seek to raise public awareness and support for the review and abolishment of the mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers in Singapore.

    Removing the “mandatory” clause in the law does not remove the death sentence for capital crimes like drug trafficking. It only gives judges the authority to impose a lesser punishment to a drug offender on a case-by-case basis.

    Read more on convicted teen drug offender Yong Vui Kong at

  • gera

    The sentence is too harsh, I mean, think about it, is ending this young human’s life really a just and fair judgement for drug trafficking?

    Take into consideration his youth, a death penalty should not be easily handed down for anything less than murder.

  • Peter

    Thousands of poor, ignorant and very young people have been hanged in Singapore because they were drug mules. They were all unnecessary. This killing has to stop and stop NOW!

  • One thing people ought to note is that the reaction on Singapore’s blogosphere is not necessarily the general opinion of the Singaporean people.

    If I am not wrong, drug trafficking carries a similar sentence in Malaysia. Whether he is coerced or tricked into carrying the drug is beyond the point, the point is he should already know doing so carries the death sentence.

  • serena

    I do understand the point of the Singapore having a mandatory death penalty. It does deters people and ensure a low crime rate in Singapore.

    However, this one size fits all law concerning the death penalty, while benefitting the society as a whole in terms of the low crime rate in the country, is extremely unfair to the particular individual who is facing the punishment.

    Shouldn’t the underlying reasons for the person’s actions be taken into consideration? Shouldn’t the law be fair to each individual. It is a life that we are talking about.

  • anonymous

    dear serena,

    i’m afraid that the law is above all and that this boy should be sent to his death.

    he is a defected good and should no longer be a burden to the scarce national resources.

    we, the people, after all are the property of the singapore government. do note that the glorious all-knowing government have abolished the jury, so you and me and his family have no say in that matter whether this boy should be sent to the firing squad.

    doesn’t matter if he made a difference to people’s lives, done charitable work, he deserves to die because he was carrying a heroin.

    PAP says 2+2=5, 2+2 is =5. Whoever says otherwise, is commiting to thoughtcrime.

    long live the minister mentor

    i’m being sarcastic here, duh. sorry if i’m causing any outrageously offensive lashings above, but i’m just proving a point that the laziness of our lawmakers such that our laws are like bazookas to take care of an ant problem. yes the ants are killed, but everything else beside it also get wiped out. how to speed up convictions and red tape? remove juries! yay! problem solved lads. and the judge, one man, gets to decide whether a man lives or dies seems more fitting than letting people from all walks of life and experiences to decide. the government simply does not trusts the people’s judgement and is growing apart from the people.

    singapore will be willing to kill the boy, or torture by rotan caning mischievous american kids like michael faye if he did the offence in the city, to make a point that their government does not falter. congrats government. do you need to kill more people just to prove that you are the all mighty ruler of this forsaken island?

    i have joined the people who have stopped hoping for political change and start worrying on my own problems (taxes, work, marriage and my goals in life). lashing out on our draconian rulers does not make lives better for all. the trick is to work around and bend laws lawfully to your interests.

    i suggest that all idealistic folks like yourselves stop worrying about this poor boy, start to educate your children to think for themselves and tell your kids to make it a habit to question critically without fear. ask yourself what you want to spend your energy working on that you enjoy.

    perhaps together we will foster a thinking culture for the next generation of singaporeans that will rule with reason and respect for human lives.

  • […] tradotto da Laura Diel · vai all’articolo originale […]

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