Sunday, July 10, 2011

Letter 5: Seven More Letters To Go

Fifth letter from death row: Seven more to go
Yong Vui Kong
May 21, 11

Sabahan Yong Vui Kong, 21, is on death row in Singapore for drug trafficking. Malaysiakini is publishing Yong's final letters to Yetian, a member of the Save Vui Kong Campaign, in the next few weeks as he faces death.

Yetian, this my fifth letter, so I have seven letters to go before I die. I have seven more chances to put my feelings into words and to thank everyone for taking time from their busy lives to help me.

In this fifth letter, there is a lot that I want to say. When a country becomes a successful country, it is because there are very good leaders, very good laws and very good citizens.

Just like our country, we have leaders who are not so bad and we have laws which apply to everyone. But the most important thing is we have very good citizens. If we don't have such kind-hearted citizens, no one would know about my case.

When a person makes a mistake, he will have to be punished. We need to follow the law. I made a mistake in Singapore, and so they want me to suffer the consequences of the law. I feel that this is justified because they are following the law of a good country.

I have told you before that I was very afraid of being executed. When I heard the judge say that I had to face capital punishment, I was very scared and did not know what to do.

At the time, my lawyer told me that I would have to make an appeal. I was already studying Buddhist philosophy, and I knew that Buddhism says that we cannot lie. I really believed that appealing meant that I would have to lie, and stand up in court to say that I was not guilty. I didn't want to do that because I knew I have done wrong, so I decided to withdraw my appeal.

If we cheat others, we might be able to escape death, but when we die eventually, we will be punished in Hell: Isn't it very painful?

In the end, my elder brother Yun Leong helped me engage a new lawyer. He said that it was very important to appeal my case. I did not really understand so he explained a lot about matters regarding the death penalty and the law, and I let him do as he saw fit.

My lawyer explained to me that I could ask for clemency and commute my death sentence into life imprisonment. This way, I can stay in prison, study Buddhist scriptures and see Yun Leong regularly.

Laws are made by man

I am working hard to learn English and to read my case, because I want to know more about the law in Singapore.

I finally understood one point - that laws are made by man. Since they are made by man, man can also change them. For example, some laws involving the death penalty.

I am reminded of a fellow inmate who was forcibly dragged out for execution, and I am pained, because he was very young. I wonder, did he really have to die?

Yetian, you told me that the home minister and law minister publicly agreed to reconsider the death penalty, but they have not yet taken any action. Maybe because they are busy with other national affairs. But I believe that as high-ranking officials, they will fulfil their commitments.

I wrote many letters, but Yun Leong said only a few people received them. Perhaps many of the letters were stopped by the prison warden or maybe because my case and many other death penalty cases in lawful Singapore are being monitored, so they are very careful with my letters.

But let me honestly tell everyone, my letters contain all my feelings and I hope that everyone can read my letters.

Before I end this letter, I would like to encourage everyone to study religion. After becoming a Buddhist, I understood that lying is a very serious thing, so I will not lie and will openly tell everyone my story.

Even if my case does not look good, in the future there may be many more cases such as mine, so isn't prevention important?

This letter will be published a few days after Wesak Day. Even though the day has come and gone, I wish everyone a happy Wesak Day, and wish everyone health, peace and happiness.

YONG VUI KONG, a Sabahan, was sentenced in November 2009 to death for drug trafficking. He was 19. On April 4, Yong lost his final appeal against a mandatory death sentence. He will be executed in three months unless he is granted clemency by Singapore's president.

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