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Started by JeffB, December 17, 2008, 04:43:57 PM
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June 15, 2010, 05:12:07 PM
Counsel Hold Out Hope for Youth on Death Row in Singapore
By Baradan Kuppusamy
KUALA LUMPUR, June 15, 2010 (IPS) - A Malaysian youth is languishing in death row awaiting hanging after Singapore's judiciary found him guilty of possessing heroin weighing 47 grams, lawyers fighting to save him tell IPS.
Lawyers, human rights activists and chapters of leading human rights advocate Amnesty International in both countries are working to save Yong from execution.
"We will mobilise public opinion against the death penalty, against the bid to kill Yong for such a paltry offence," said human rights lawyer N. Surendran. "If need be, we will protest outside the Singapore mission here and organise boycott of anything that is clearly Singapore," he said, adding the aim is to pressure Singapore to be "humane."
Yong Vui Kong, 21, a Malaysian from the South-east Asian country's eastern state of Sabah, was only 19 years old when he was sentenced by the Singapore High Court to death in November 2008.
Yong and his family of nine were abandoned by his father when he was only three years old. As a young boy he left his village in Sandakan, Sabah for the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur and later Singapore.
Like hundreds of thousands of other people displaced by rural-urban migration, Yong was chasing the same dream - work hard, save and strike it rich. But his life took an unexpected spiral.
His clemency petition for the death sentence to be commuted to life was rejected and he was scheduled for hanging on Dec. 4, 2009. But he was saved by an unprecedented stay granted by the Singapore Court 24 hours before the hanging.
His lawyer, Ravi Ramasamy, a prominent human rights champion in Singpore, rushed to court and argued that mandatory death sentences were unconstitutional, citing numerous decisions of famous judges in Commonwealth countries, including India.
The mandatory element of the death penalty removes discretion from judges and grants it to the state, and this is unconstitutional, Madasamy told IPS in an interview in this capital. "The state is the judge and executioner."
"The power to hang has been given to the state by taking away the discretion from the judges. Mitigating circumstances are ignored," said Malaysian Bar Council (MBC) president Ragunath Kesavan.
A higher court has overturned the stay and re-imposed the death sentence, and Yong is again facing the hangman's noose.
Madasamy, who has battled the Singapore criminal justice system on numerous occasions, has only until about August this year to keep Yong alive.
"I have asked Yong, his mother and siblings to expect the worst because the system in Singapore is merciless," Madasamy said. "They want to make a point and they might want to do it not by mercy but by hanging," he added. "We are racing against time to safe Yong."
It usually takes about three months between submission of a clemency petition and its rejection and immediate execution of the victim, said the lawyer.
Activists in Malaysia and Singapore have argued that even top lawyers in London are involved in challenging the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty provision in Singapore.
"We are mobilising public opinion in Malaysia to show the inherent injustice in mandatory sentences. We want our parliament to repeal this provision from Malaysian laws," said MBC's Kesavan, urging Singaporeans to do likewise.
Both Singpore and Malaysia have mandatory death penalty for certain offences, particularly murder and possession of a certain amount of illegal drugs.
Both countries have hanged scores of people of different nationalities for drug possession, which is punishable by mandatory death by hanging, which human rights groups say is a primitive way of killing, because it causes agony and sufferings to its victims.
"Singapore has world-class facilities but not world-class humanism," lawyer Surendran said, adding it was time the city-state showed its human side by giving Yong a chance to live. He has urged the Malaysian government to speak up for Yong by pressuring Singapore to grant clemency and commute the death sentence to life.
As Yong awaits his execution, he hears others being dragged from their cells to the execution chamber, crying, wailing and begging to be freed and to be forgiven, his family said.
Yong was 12 years old when he ran away from a "life of pain," said his brother Yun Leong. At 15, he made his way to Kuala Lumpur, hoping to find a better job but faced discrimination because of his "rural" origins. He found work in a Chinese restaurant but was paid far less than his colleagues.
"He told us while work was hard and the pay was low, there was always ample food to eat," Yun Leong said. "He was always looking for better-paying jobs."
Later, a local gang recruited him to hawk pirated video compact discs or VCDs. From hawking he moved into "helping out" at collecting debts.
An unnamed 'Big Brother' came into his life for whom he felt compelled to do anything. According to friends and family, Yong soon started delivering small packets of heroin to people in the city. In May 2007 he was caught by Singapore police with 47.27 grams of heroin with him.
Lawyer Madasamy said his client has come to terms with his impending death. He has also embraced Buddhism, waking up early to meditate and seek advice from Buddhist monks, who visit him regularly, the counsel said.
Yong continues to hope for a miracle.
Photo : Two human rights activists in Singapore hold up a poster expressing support for death row inmate Yong Vui Kong. Credit:Ravi Madasamy/IPS
I'd like to help U out. Which way did U come in?
June 16, 2010, 03:59:12 AM
"Yong Vui Kong is young. But if we say we let you go what's the signal we're sending? We're sending a signal to all drug barons out there...just make sure you choose a victim who's young or a mother of a young child and use them as the people to carry drugs into Singapore. With the sympathy generated after these people are caught he added, there will be a whole unstoppable stream of people coming through as long as we won't enforce our laws".
Absolutely correct! The US needs to take a page from their book and start executing after only 2 appeals and those have to be done in the first 2 years. That will be my next birthday wish.
Gee? Do you think I will be able to blow out 66 candles?
" Closure? Closure is a misused word in the English language. There is no such thing as closure for the family of a murder victim. There will never be any closure for the death of our loved ones until we are dead ourselves. The families have a lifetime sentence of anguish and sadness."
June 18, 2010, 09:16:36 AM
Malaysian High Commission visits death row inmate
Posted by theonlinecitizen on June 18, 2010
Representatives from the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore have visited Yong Vui Kong in prison, The Online Citizen has learned. This is the first time that Malaysian government officials have done so since Yong's arrest in June 2007. We also understand that the High Commissioner has asked to meet with Yong's lawyer, Mr Madasamy Ravi.
Yong is being held in Singapore's Changi Prison after he was found guilty by the courts for drug trafficking. He faces the mandatory death penalty.
The visit on 17 June by the High Commission of Malaysia seems to have been sparked by the "shock and astonishment" from lawyers who are involved in the death penalty issue after Malaysian Law Minister Nazri Aziz said, on 16 June, that he was not aware of Yong's case. The minister had also dismissed Mr Ravi's appeal for the Malaysian government to act to save Yong from the gallows. News portal Malaysiakini reported the minister as saying "that Malaysia will not interfere in its neighbour's legal processes." (See here)
His remarks have been criticized by rights lawyers and activists in Malaysia.
Nonetheless, Mr Ravi is heartened that the Malaysian government is taking notice of the case. "I am prepared to give my fullest cooperation to assist the Malaysian government to act in the rightful manner and best interest of my client," he told Malaysiakini.
Mr Ravi is urging the Malaysian authorities to bring the matter to the International Court of Justice. "The key issue surrounding the matter was the fact that Yong was denied the clemency process when it was filed in December last year," said Mr Ravi.
"The denial of due process to a helpless Malaysian citizen who is facing imminent death in a few weeks, calls for immediate attention from the Malaysian government to file a complaint at the International Court of Justice," Mr Ravi told Malaysiakini in an earlier interview.
TOC understands that Commissioner Md Hussin Nayan yesterday (17 June) requested an "urgent" meeting with Mr Ravi at 10am on 18 June, Friday.
However, we have just learned that when Mr Ravi visited the High Commissioner's office this morning (18 June), the planned meeting at the consulate was abruptly cancelled and moved to another venue.
We also understand that consulate officials, including the second political secretary, are seeking details of Yong's case from Mr Ravi and that they will be meeting with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry in due course.
In the meantime, Mr Ravi says Yong is glad that the Malaysian government is now taking an interest in his case and for having visited him in prison for the first time.
June 19, 2010, 09:04:43 PM
Death row case: Minister to meet Yong's lawyer
Jun 19, 10
Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian national currently on death row in Singapore, may finally be getting a shot at keeping his appeal alive, as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs have reportedly agreed to a meeting with his lawyer.
M Ravi (left), a human rights lawyer representing Yong on a pro-bono basis, said the government has requested to meet him when he visits Kuala Lumpur next week, between June 25 and 29.
"They have requested that I write a formal letter to them, which I have just forwarded to the media. I will keep you informed of the developments," said Ravi, in an SMS to Malaysiakini yesterday evening.
Ravi says the Singapore Malaysian High Commission's second secretary Rohani Hussain conveyed the request.
Ravi met with Rohani and Juraida Abd Jamil, the other second secretary from the Consular's officer, for about an hour in Hotel Hilton this morning to discuss Yong's case.
Rohani visited Yong, who was caught trafficking 47g of heroin into the island city in 2007, in Changi prison yesterday following media reports seeking Malaysia's intervention in the case
Duty to protect citizens
At the same time, Ravi said he is exploring with Malaysian lawyers to file an application in court for mandatory injunction to compel the Malaysian government to file a complaint in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
"This would be done if (Malaysia) fails in its duty to exercise its right to this vital legal remedy, which is available to our client via the ICJ," he said.
"We note with regret the de facto law minister of Malaysia's (Nazri) response, that the case was an internal matter. His remark was of grave concern to us, our client as well as the legal community and civil society in Malaysia," he added.
"It is the duty of the Malaysian government to protect the rights of its nationals," he stressed.
Ravi, in his letter to the High Commissioner, explained that Yong was making a clemency petition to the Singapore cabinet and President SR Nathan.
S'pore minister prejudiced case
His recourse for remedy was unfortunately pre-empted when Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam made a remark about the latter's case even before he could file the clemency, said Ravi.
Ravi added that Shanmugam's remark has prejudiced Yong's relief to the clemency process.
"In our view, as well as based on the opinion of legal experts in London, this is a serious breach of due process. We would urge the Malaysian government to file a complaint at the ICJ on behalf of its national facing imminent death arising out of the breach of local and international laws by Singapore," he said.
"In view of the denial of the clemency process, the only option available to the Singapore government is to commute Yong's death sentence, which is the same remedy that can be sought by the Malaysian government at the ICJ".
On May 9, Shanmugam said publicly that "Yong Vui Kong is young, but if we say, we let you go, what is the signal we are sending?"
The island's legal experts said that these comment had potentially prejudiced an appeal before it had been decided in court, making Nathan's rejection of Yong's clemency appeal both "illegal and flawed".
June 22, 2010, 05:38:47 PM
: June 22, 2010, 05:40:41 PM by AnneTheBelgian
June 22, 2010 19:46 PM
14 Death-Row Prisoners Get Pardon, Says Hishammuddin
KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 (Bernama) -- Fourteen prisoners who received the death sentence were pardoned between 2000 and 2009, including two who were freed.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said seven of them were now serving life imprisonment, while the sentence of four others had been reduced to 20 years' jail.
Two of the prisoners who were freed by the state Pardons Board, included an inmate whose sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, he said in a written answer to a question by Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.
He said that based on Regulation 114 of the Prisons Regulations 2000, a prisoner under death sentence may petition the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the state where the offence was committed.
"For death row prisoners who want to file the petition, they will be assisted by the Prisons Department," he added.
Meanwhile, to another question, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said the Public Service Department was considering applications for promotion of prison officers by the Prisons Department.
He said the promotion involved wardens in service scheme grade KX17 to Sub Inspector grade KX26, assistant superintendent in service scheme grade KX27 to grade KX38 and prisons superintendent in service scheme grade KX41 to KX54.
Abu Seman also said that prior to this, the Prisons Department had submitted a request for salary increment for wardens in grade KX17 to deputy commissioner grade KX54, but it was rejected.
July 04, 2010, 05:28:25 PM
Riot to plead for Sarawakian in Singapore
July 4, 2010, Sunday
SERIAN: The case of a Sarawakian facing a death penalty in Singapore is now top on the agenda of new Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Richard Riot.
He said yesterday he would meet his Singaporean counterparts soon to negotiate for the sentence to be reduced.
"We respect the sovereignty of other countries, and we will not want to interfere with their policies.
"But in this case, we want to help a fellow Malaysian. Currently, our High Commission in Singapore is tasked to handle it. If no solution is found, I will go there to talk with the Singaporeans to ask them to consider reducing the sentence to life imprisonment," he told reporters here.
He did not speak in detail of the Sarawakian involved in the case, but it is believed he was referring to Micheal Garing, 22, a general worker who could face the death penalty if convicted for the murder of 41-year-old Indian national at Kallang Road last May 30.
Riot, who is also Serian member of parliament, earlier presented minor rural project (MRP) funds to 42 associations and village committees at the Dewan Masyarakat (community hall) here.
In his speech, he shared with the audience his experiences ever since he assumed the post of Deputy Foreign Minister on June 3.
He said he was also tasked with helping the family of a man detained in Egypt recently for suspected involvement in the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) movement.
"And in the past one month, I received courtesy calls from delegations from 10 different countries in my office...And this included representatives from the Pope and Anglican Archbishop," he said.
He also told them he would be going to London, Great Britain from July 25 to 27, and to Yemen in the Middle East on August 2 and 3.
"I might be accompanying Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on his trip to London," he said.
On another matter, Riot called on the MRP recipients to spend the funds wisely.
He said they should also provide his office with a report on how the funds are utilised.
"For those (associations) from villages, I hope you will discuss with your fellow villagers to plan how to utilise the money towards meaningful purposes. We do not want villagers lodge reports against their fellow villagers due to displeasure over the MRP grant," he said.
The presentation ceremony yesterday was for 42 out of the 53 associations picked for this year's first phase of MRP grants totalling RM543,000. The second phase is scheduled within the next two to three months.
July 05, 2010, 03:33:36 PM
Local man in Singapore death row gets govt support
Mon, 05 Jul 2010 18:14
By Rahmah Ghazali
KUALA LUMPUR: The government will rely on diplomatic channels to obtain clemency for a 22-year-old Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, who is facing the gallows in Singapore for drug trafficking.
Expressing sympathy, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters today that the government "will do everything possible within its power" to seek clemency for Yong.
Anifah had earlier met with Yong's lawyer M Ravi, who travelled from Singapore, together with Batu PKR MP Tian Chua.
"I will be writing to my counterpart in Singapore based on the arguments put forward (Ravi and Chua) and plead for clemency," Anifah.
"He has one more avenue and we will be writing to the Singapore government soon," the minister said, adding that the time frame will be determined as soon as the legal basis is sorted out.
Yong, who hails from Sabah was arrested when he was only 19, and charged with trafficking in 47.27g of a controlled drug, diaphormine in Singapore.
'Not in our power to bring back'
He was convicted on Jan 7, 2009 and sentenced to death. His execution was, however, thwarted when he was granted a stay, four days before he was to be hanged.
The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on May 14 this year. Ravi said they will file a judicial review next week.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Anifah, Chua said he welcomed the government's effort to intercede on Yong's behalf.
He also said that the ministry will send a watching brief team if the judicial review is heard.
"We are pleased that the foreign ministry has shown an interest in this because it is their duty to look after the safety and well-being of Malaysian traveling abroad," he said.
Earlier today the Dewan Rakyat speaker rejected Chua's emergency motion to debate Yong's case.
He said this was denied based on technical grounds as another member of parliament had filed a motion before him.
(Photo : Yong Vui Kong)
July 05, 2010, 03:35:50 PM
(with photo and video)
BREAKING NEWS: Malaysia to seek clemency for Yong Vui Kong
Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 5, 2010
Here's a brief summary of what transpired in Malaysia today where an emergency motion was put forth to debate the fate of Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian national who is on Singapore's death row since 2007 for drug trafficking
Dispatch by Choo Zheng Xi / Kuala Lumpur
Lawyer for death row inmate Yong Vui Kong, Mr Madasamy Ravi, was today put in direct contact with Malaysia's Director-General of International Affairs to further discuss a possible Malaysian action at the International Court of Justice to protect Yong's right to due process in the event that judicial review action is rejected.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, together with PKR Parliamentarian Tian Chua, met with Mr Ravi as well. The Foreign Minister promised to write directly to Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo to seek clemency for Yong.
"We sympathise with what had transpired and will do everything possible within our powers or diplomatic means to solve the problem," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby Monday. (The Star Online)
"I will be writing to my counterpart in Singapore based on the arguments put forward (Ravi and Chua) and plead for clemency," Anifah said.
"He has one more avenue and we will be writing to the Singapore government soon," the minister said, adding that the time frame will be determined as soon as the legal basis is sorted out. (Free Malaysia Today)
Correspondence will include attached legal opinion from Mr Ravi and will request urgent action.
Mr Ravi also met with various other officials from the various political parties, including the leader of the opposition, Datuk Anwar Ibrahim.
July 06, 2010, 12:10:49 PM
Tuesday July 6, 2010
Ministry to seek clemency for death row man in S'pore
KUALA LUMPUR : The Foreign Ministry will write to the Singapore government to plead for clemency for Sabahan Yong Vui Kong who was sentenced to death last year for drug trafficking.
"We sympathise with what had transpired and will do everything possible within our powers to solve the issue," Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Yong, 22, was convicted on Jan 7 last year for trafficking in 47gm of diamorphine, a capital offence under the Singaporean Misuse of Drugs Act.
He was arrested on June 13, 2007.
Tian Chua (PKR - Batu) said he and his lawyers had given Anifah the case's background.
Yong's lawyer M. Ravi brought up his client's plight at Parliament yesterday in a desperate attempt to seek help from the Malaysian Government to save him from execution.
Last year, Yong had filed a petition to the Singapore president for clemency but it was rejected on Dec 1.
July 07, 2010, 06:29:30 PM
(with photos and some articles...)
Death row case: S'pore's media buries its head
Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 7, 2010
On 5 July, the lawyer for Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, paid a visit to Malaysia to seek help from the authorities there for his client. Yong Vui Kong is currently on death row in Singapore's Changi Prison after having been found guilty of drug trafficking.
Mr Madasamy Ravi, Yong's lawyer, has been fighting a battle the last nine months or so to have his client's sentence commuted. He has so far successfully applied for two stays of execution for his client from the courts. His plea to the Court of Appeal on 15 March was finally dismissed and Yong's sentence was upheld by the courts.
Mr Ravi's trip to Kuala Lumpur was to urge the Malaysian government to intervene on Yong's behalf on the basis that the Law Minister of Singapore, Mr K Shanmugam, has prejudiced Yong's constitutional right to make an appeal for presidential clemency. The Law Minister had, one week before the Court of Appeal handed down its decision in May, referred to Yong Vui Kong by name when he made certain remarks in a public forum.
When asked by a member of the public about the death penalty, the Law Minister said: "Yong Vui Kong is young. But if we say 'We let you go', what is the signal we are sending?"
According to the then-Attorney General, Walter Woon, when making his submissions at the Court of Appeal in March, it is the Cabinet which decides on clemency petitions and not the president. He further emphasized that "the president has no discretion in this matter."
This is the background to Mr Ravi's visit to Kuala Lumpur and why he is seeking Malaysia's help to save his client from being hanged.
The clemency process, he feels, has been compromised or prejudiced. The Law Minister is a member of the Cabinet which decides on clemency appeals (as the Attorney General explained). The Law Minister's remarks - which effectively or potentially seals the fate of Yong Vui Kong even before Yong submits his clemency petition to the president - is what Mr Ravi takes issue with.
On his trip to KL, Mr Ravi met with the Foreign Minister, the Law Minister, the deputy foreign minister, leader of the opposition, Datuk Anwar Ibrahim, Mr Lim Kit Siang, Mr Tian Chua and several other Members of Parliament from all sides of the political spectrum.
Mr Ravi also held a press conference there.
All the main Malaysian media have picked up the issue, both in print and online.
Yet in Singapore, the media's coverage has been scant.
The Straits Times carries a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) - on page A17 of the paper on 7 July, two days after the press conference in KL.
The Today paper also carried an AFP report - all five sentences of it - on page 26 of its 7 July edition.
The Straits Times did not even correct AFP's mistake in saying that Yong was convicted of trafficking "42.27g" of heroin. The correct figure is 47.27g.
Neither of the two reports mentions Mr Ravi, nor his reasons for his trip to KL. Neither carries any pictures of the day's event. There is also no mention of the Singapore Law Minister, Mr K Shanmugam, nor the Attorney General, Mr Walter Woon, and their earlier remarks which are the basis for Mr Ravi's appeal to the Malaysian government.
In other words, the Straits Times and Today's reports have avoided reporting on the reasons for this latest turn of events in the case of Yong Vui Kong.
One can only wonder why.
Singaporeans, it seems, are kept in the dark by our media on matters which are serious, important and which should be aired for public debate.
Instead, what we have here is a shameful covering up of issues which perhaps are potentially embarrassing to our government, especially our Law Minister and our former Attorney General - nevermind if a boy's life hangs in the balance.
July 11, 2010, 08:38:06 AM
Singapore: Rejection of Yong's clemency not flawed
Jul 10, 10
Singapore's Law Minister K Shanmugam has taken umbrage at the remarks of the lawyer representing Malaysian Yong Vui Kong in the republic's death row awaiting sentence to carried out for a drug offence.
In a press statement today sent via the Singapore High Commission in Malaysia, he said that M.Ravi, representing the 22 year old Yong, was inaccurate in attributing to him statements which he did not make.
July 14, 2010, 11:57:51 AM
Minister for Law prejudiced Yong Vui Kong's clemency appeal, says counsel
July 14th, 2010
Yong Vui Kong was arrested on June 13, 2007 in Singapore and charged with trafficking 47.27g of a controlled drug, diamorphine, an offence under section 5(1)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. He was convicted on Jan 7, 2009, and sentenced to death.
The man appealed the decision but later withdrew his appeal and attempted to file a petition for clemency to the President of Singapore instead.
The appeal was rejected. Four days before his execution date, Yong's counsel M. Ravi filed an application in the court for leave to pursue the appeal and a stay of execution was obtained.
Despite this, following the hearing of the application, Yong's case was finally dismissed on May 14 this year.
He faces the gallows by the end of next month if all legal and diplomatic channels to commute his sentence are exhausted.
Law Minister Mr Shanmugam first commented directly on Yong's case on 9 May 2010, stating that "Yong vui kong is young. But if we say 'We let you go', what is the signal we are sending?". These remarks were made at a public event and widely reported in the Singaporean media.
Mr M Ravi, lawyer for Yong Vui Kong subsequently released a press statement, in response to the Law Ministry's comments on Yong's case. The statement is reproduced below, verbatim.
LAW MINISTER'S COMMENTS PREJUDICIAL TO YONG VUI KONG'S CLEMENCY APPEAL
Cabinet should not usurp Elected President's Constitutional powers
Background and summary
1. This press release is issued in response to the statement from the Ministry of Law regarding the death sentence for Yong Vui Kong.
2. Law Minister Mr Shanmugam first commented directly on Yong's case on 9 May 2010, stating that "Yong vui kong is young. But if we say 'We let you go', what is the signal we are sending?". These remarks were made at a public event and widely reported in the Singaporean media.
3. In a subsequent statement on 9 July 2010, the Ministry of Law asserted that Mr Shanmugam's remarks were justified as the Government's policy is "matter of public importance". Additionally, the Law Ministry took the opportunity to further prejudice the clemency process by highlighting prejudicial information based on charges that were never brought against Yong. These make clear that Cabinet intends to reject my client's clemency petition even before it has been filed.
4. The consequence of these statements is as follows:
a. There has been an egregious breach of the Constitution as the President, not Cabinet, is supposed to make clemency petition decisions.
b. A Cabinet Minister (Mr Shanmugam) and his Ministry have made public statements referring to my client by name, evincing a plain desire that my client be executed regardless of the clemency process.
c. The crux of the issue is that it is clear that Cabinet cannot play any further role in the clemency process as it has obviously prejudged Yong's case.
"The President does not have a discretion in this matter"
5. One key concern for my client is that the Attorney-General Walter Woon is on record saying that, "Although in theory it is the President who exercises the prerogative of mercy, in fact it is the Cabinet that makes the decision". He made this submission in the Court of Appeal. The AG also said, unrebutted, that, "The President does not have a discretion in this matter."
6. This flies directly in the face of the Constitution which confers the power of clemency on the Elected President himself, and clearly states that Cabinet's powers are only to advise the Elected President on the exercise of the prerogative. This extraordinary revelation has only come to light as a result of the disclosure made by the Attorney-General in his submissions before the Court of Appeal in Yong's case.
7. This revelation is startling as clemency petitions are submitted to the Elected President on the assumption that the Constitution is followed in letter and spirit. Cabinet's exercise of the Elected President's Constitutional prerogative amounts to a usurpation of the Elected President's clemency powers conferred on him expressly under Article 22P of the Constitution.
The Law Minister's remarks
8. The Law Minister's prejudicial comments were made even before the Court of Appeal had passed judgment. The Court had to decide the very issue of whether it is constitutional to execute a convicted person without considering his youth or other personal circumstances. On 9 May 2010, the Law Minister commented that, "Yong Vui Kong is young. But if we say 'we let you go', what is the signal we are sending?" Even before the clemency process is initiated, it is clear from these comments that Yong's youth and other personal circumstances would count for nothing in the clemency process.
9. As a result of all the above factors, I am confident that there will be a judicial ruling which restores to the President his decision making powers on clemency petitions under Article 22P of the Constitution. However, even if this is done, it cannot erase the prejudice displayed by the body which the Constitution says must advise the President. The views of Cabinet on the merits of Yong's case have been publicly aired before his current petition has even been received. His youth and personal circumstances have been ruled ineligible for consideration even though these are the very things which the Elected President can take into consideration.
The President must pardon
10. The only way in which the Constitution can be observed in relation to my client is for the Elected President to peremptorily pardon him in order to assuage the gross procedural and substantive improprieties that have taken place in this case. The Elected President must now pardon my client or the Court must grant my client's application for judicial review where there has not been and cannot be a proper clemency process.
Counsel for Yong Vui Kong
Dated 11 July 2010
July 20, 2010, 09:25:24 AM
: July 20, 2010, 09:39:47 AM by AnneTheBelgian
Maid murderer sentenced - Malaysia urges return of Indonesian maids
Jul 20, 2010, 10:10 GMT
Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's maid employment agencies Tuesday urged the Indonesian government to lift a ban on sending its maids after a court sentenced a man to death for murdering his Indonesian maid.
The Malaysian High Court handed down the death sentence Monday to A Murugan, 36, for causing the death of 36-year-old Muntik Bani in October.
Muntik was rescued after being locked in a toilet for two days. She succumbed to the severe wounds on her face and body, three days after slipping into a coma.
Muntik's case caused a diplomatic row between Malaysia and Indonesia, escalating already-tense relations which had led to Jakarta banning the sending of maids to Malaysia in June 2009.
Malaysian maid agencies have appealed to the Indonesian government to lift the ban, saying many maids continued to enter the country through illegal agencies, thus making it even harder to monitor and oversee their safety.
'Our authorities have been serious from the beginning, and for this reason, the Indonesian government should also not delay in (lifting the freeze),' Alwi Bavutty, president of the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies, was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.
Murugan's lawyers have said they will appeal the sentence.
Despite numerous talks between the two countries, the maid ban has yet to be lifted, with officials saying the outstanding problem is the issue of minimum wage.
Malaysia has already agreed to give the maids one day off a week, and make it compulsory for employers to let domestic workers keep their own working documents.
However, officials say Kuala Lumpur is unwilling to agree to a minimum monthly salary of 800 ringgit (250 dollars) for the maids, who currently earn as little as 400 ringgit a month.
Malaysia is home to 320,000 foreign maids, 85 per cent of whom are from Indonesia.
Another article :
Indonesian maid killer's death sentence shows action is being taken: Papa
By LOH FOON FONG and EDWARD R. HENRY
Published: Tuesday July 20, 2010 MYT 11:56:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday July 20, 2010 MYT 3:12:18 PM
PETALING JAYA: The death sentence on an employer who killed his Indonesian maid showed that the Malaysian authorities do not tolerate abuse of maids, said the Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Alwi Bavutty on Tuesday.
The Indonesian government should, therefore, lift its freeze on sending their maids to Malaysia, he said.
He said the fact that the High Court had meted out a death sentence Monday on night-market trader A. Murugan, 36, for causing the death of Indonesian maid Muntik Bani and other cases where abusers were punished showed that Malaysians did not tolerate such abuse.
"Our authorities have been serious from the beginning, and for this reason, the Indonesian government should also not delay in signing the memorandum of understanding with Malaysia on maid related issues," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Muntik's case caused a diplomatic row between Malaysia and Indonesia and the Indonesian government issued a freeze on the sending of maids to Malaysia.
He said this would not benefit Indonesia because maids were still coming into Malaysia through tourist visas and working under circumstances unprotected by the law.
Murugan was charged with murdering Muntik at his house at No.11, Jalan Datuk Yusof Shahbudin 6 in Taman Sentosa, Klang between Oct 18 and 20 last year.
She was allegedly starved and beaten until she became paralysed before she died.
The prosecution had adduced evidence saying that Muntik went to work with Murugan after running away from her former employer, whom she had worked with for almost five years.
In passing judgment on Monday, judge Mohd Yazid Mustafa said he found overwhelming evidence that Murugan had slapped, kicked, beaten, and starved Muntik for two days in the toilet of his house in Klang.
Yazid said Muntik was in good physical condition when she ran away from her former employer on Sept 17 last year.
DPP Idham Abd Ghani, Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar and Siti Fatimah Yahya prosecuted while counsel V. Rajehgopal represented the accused.
Bavutty also said that employers and employees must learn from the Muntik's case - that they cannot get away with abuse.
"Employers cannot abuse employees and employees cannot abuse employer's children," he said.
Meanwhile, Murugan's lawyer V. Rajehgopal said that his office is working on the appeal papers and it would soon be filed.
"When the High Court metes out the death sentence or puts the person in death row, its automatic procedure for the prison authorities to appeal against the sentencing.
"But as his lawyer, I will put in the appeal papers soon," he said when met at the court building here.
July 20, 2010, 12:09:34 PM
Three to hang for drug trafficking in Malaysia
Monday, 19 July 2010
A Malaysian court has sentenced three Indonesians to hang for drug trafficking.
Lawyer Rafidi Mohamad said a high court in northern Kedah state found his clients guilty of trafficking more than 4lb of cannabis.
Police found two slabs of the drugs inside a plastic bag in a car the men were driving five years ago.
Mr Rafidi said the men, aged 31, 33 and 42, were sentenced on Sunday. He said that he would appeal against the verdict.
A drug trafficking conviction carries the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.
July 21, 2010, 08:42:10 AM
Wanted: 100,000 signatures to save Vui Kong
Lee Way Loon
Jul 21, 10
The 'Save Vui Kong' campaign aims for 100,000 signatures by Aug 23 to support a petition requesting clemency for Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian who is on death row for drug trafficking in Singapore.
Some 2,000 signatures have been collected since the drive was launched two days ago in support of the 22-year-old from Sandakan, Sabah.
Campaign coordinator Ngeow Chow Ying said the campaigners hope that all 222 members of parliament, 69 senators and 60 Sabah state assemblypersons will count themselves among the signatories.
"We have prepared a card for them to sign and mail back using a stamped self-addressed envelope by (July 31)," she told a press conference in Parliament House today.
The campaign is co-sponsored by the civil rights committee of the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and human rights NGO Suaram.
"Concerned state assemblypersons from other states are also welcome to join in. We will then present these personal plea cards together to the Istana - the Office of the President of Singapore."
Ngeow stressed that, contrary to what Singaporean authorities have said, clemency for Yong would be a boon for the city-state's anti-drugs campaign, as it would prove that wayward youths can be rehabilitated.
"Vui Kong is a completely changed person after his arrest. He has found his spiritual salvation in Buddhism and has vowed to use his remaining days to counsel lost souls like he once was and to campaign against drug trafficking and drug abuse.
"He will do whatever he can to get his message of regret and redemption out to many young lives and save them from drugs. A second chance for Vui Kong is therefore also second chance for many out there."
'Minister overstepped authority'
Singapore law minister K Shanmugam had previously been quoted by local media as saying that granting Yong clemency would "seriously undermine" the city-state's anti-drug policies.
"We (would be) sending a signal to all drug barons out there: Just make sure to choose a victim who is your or a mother of a young child and use them as the people to carry the drugs into Singapore," he was quoted as saying.
Tunku Abdul Aziz, who was among four Pakatan Rakyat senators at the press conference, decried Shanmugam's statement, saying it has done damage to Yong's chances of getting clemency from the president of Singapore.
"This is a case where a minister oversteps his authority. He should allow the appeal to go through. The comment is totally unhelpful," said Tunku Abdul Aziz.
"I really hope the Singapore government, in its wisdom, will take into account the points we (have) raised, as well as the online petition."
The signatures must be submitted to Singapore president Sellapan Ramanathan before the deadline for Yong's clemency plea expires on Aug 26.
Yong's story is one of tragic youth as he fought his way out of a difficult childhood only to face the gallows for transporting a gift to a client of his "big brother" from Malaysia to Singapore.
The gift turned out to be 47gm of heroin.
He was only 18 years and 6 months old when arrested on June 13, 2007 at a hotel in Singapore for having the drug in his possession.
Raised in a broken home, Yong was forced into back-breaking manual labour when only 12, moving oil palm fruit on his grandfather's estate, as his mother could not support her six children on her meagre salary as a dishwasher.
Their poverty was also the reason why he did not complete his Year 6 education.
When he turned 15, Yong moved to Kota Kinabalu in search of better opportunities to help his mother, who suffers from chronic depression.
While there, he realised the potential for even greater opportunities by moving to Kuala Lumpur, which he did after saving up enough money.
Arriving with just the shirt on his back, Yong worked at odd jobs - in the process, getting to know "friends" in secret societies.
The situation back home did not get better, especially after one of his sisters was involved in an accident. The trauma pushed his mother over the edge and she attempted suicide.
The last time he was with his family was during a short holiday to celebrate his mother's birthday in Sandakan between May and June 2007, before a "friend" in Kuala Lumpur made him an offer he could not refuse.
Given the promise of a big payout for simply delivering a "gift", he took up the offer in the hope that he could finally help his ailing mother.
He was arrested and charged with drug trafficking. The Singapore courts found him guilty and sentenced him to death on Jan 7, 2009.
His mother still does not know about his sentence, as family members fear that she will not be able to handle the shock.
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