Court of Appeal grants Yong a second stay of execution

By Rachel Zeng

Intensity was in the air as M Ravi presented his appeal on the behalf of Yong Vui Kong before the Court of Appeal this morning.

The gallery was fully packed with Yong’s immediate family members and some relatives, activists from the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC), members of the team from The Online Citizen (TOC), law students and interns from the AGC as well as concerned members of the public. I presume that most were hoping for the best, with some being there merely as observers.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, Justice V K Rajah and Justice Andrew Phang were informed by Ravi that Yong’s earlier decision to withdraw his appeal was based on the misunderstanding that if he was to make an appeal, it was necessary to lie. Due to his conversion to Buddhism, he did not want to partake in a process that he thought would require him to lie. However he has since understood from Ravi, his legal counsel that an appeal does not mean that he has to lie and so he has consented to make an appeal through Ravi. Under such circumstances, Yong should be given a chance to have his proper appeal heard. That will require another delay of execution.

After Ravi had presented his appeal, the Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaswant Singh addressed the Court on his allegations that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the Criminal Motion (on 2 Dec) and that the decision by Justice Woo Bi Lih to grant Yong a stay of execution was wrong in law. Together, the judges argued in disagreement against his address.

Court was then adjourned til 11.30am.

When some of us went back a minute before it was due to resume, we were denied entry as the gallery was fully packed. We managed to convinced them to let one of us in. The moment I managed to squeeze onto a bench, I heard the great news that the judges decided to agree with Ravi’s presentation and as a result, Yong was granted a second stay of execution in order for Ravi to present his appeal once again. Ravi has been informed by the registrar to return to court to set a date for the appeal hearing this coming Friday.

Personally, I feel that this is a surprisingly good outcome. Not only was Yong given more time to live and get his appeal heard, it might also bear a greater legal significance with regards to the mandatory death penalty according to Ravi.

Although it is definitely too early to be fully optimistic, good things have happened so far. Along with the SADPC, I will continue to campaign for Yong and against the death penalty (especially the mandatory death penalty).

Some people have highlighted that the campaigners are using Yong as a ‘poster boy’ for our campaign agenda but this is not the case. There are two separate campaigns, one for Yong and the other for the abolishment of the death penalty. The first one is immediate and the second one will run on a long term, step by step basis. Hope this will clarify the misunderstanding.

Read also:

SADPC’s statement – Regarding the positive outcome of Yong Vui Kong’s appeal