Let the boy live


By Rachel Zeng

What were you doing on your 23rd birthday?

Were you surrounded by loved ones, friends, or did you take a quiet walk by the beach?

Did you have a cake full of candles, nice food, some beer and presents to unwrap?

Well, a Malaysian boy from Sabah will have none of the above.

Yong Vui Kong is turning 23 on the 19th of this month. He has spent his time on the deathrow in Singapore since he was convicted of smuggling 47grams of heroin into our country. He was just one of the several drug mules used by the drug syndicates in Malaysia and Singapore, used and sacrificed, a silly mistake that might eventually cost him his life.

The law is the law, right?

However think of yourself growing up in a plantation, far removed from the city. Think of yourself witnessing how a broken marriage and sorry financial situation led to the depression of your own mother. Think of yourself and your siblings having to endure your grandfather’s abuse. Won’t you want to get out of the situation, and help make life better for your mother?

Faced with discrimination in Kuala Lumpur for being from East Malaysia, Vui Kong received harsh treatment and a miserable salary when he was working there at the age of 14-15 as a kitchen helper.

He was then introduced to a gang who treated him to meals, frequent visits to 5 star hotels, bought him new clothes, all of which he could never afford. Such gestures was naively seen as kindness, and he started hanging out more often with them, running errands for ‘Big Brother’. Eventually, Vui Kong started working for ‘Big Brother’.

So in 2007, he helped ‘Big Brother’ run a particular errand which required him to cross the Causeway. To Vui Kong, it was a great deal because the pay was good and his mother’s birthday was near. He did not know what kind of substance heroin was, he did not know that it is such a crime to bring  this substance onto our shores. All he knew then was that he could afford to make his mother happy. He spent most of the money he received in advance on buying presents for his mother and siblings. Little did he know that it will cost him so much in reality.

For the past 4 years, Vui Kong spent his time meditating in his cell and learning both English and Chinese. The rebellious boy in him has been replaced by a very repentant personality, something which even the prisoner officers have related to his lawyer M Ravi.

As we talk about giving former convicts chances to live a proper life in society through the Yellow Ribbon Project, why is it so impossible to give this 23 year old boy another chance to go back into society as a changed man? He has vowed to advocate against drug use and trafficking should he be given the pardon, shouldn’t the Singaporean government grant him this chance?

Who has not made mistakes in their lives before?

Comeon, he was so young and naive then, and has gone through so much emotional and psychological trauma before finding his solace in Buddhism. Let us give him a chance.

Death penalty is irreversible and the mandatory death penalty is even much so as it does not take mitigating factors into consideration at all. It is not a solution to the problem. It is just a cruel and uncreative short cut that has no sense of humanity in it.

Hanging Vui Kong is going to show how hypocritical our authorities are, and that the Yellow Ribbon Project is bullocks. I know that many people do not feel so, but there are many who does. That is why we are still doing what we do and that is why we are still trying to find ways to appeal to the court and the cabinet to keep him alive.

Happy 23rd birthday in advance, Vui Kong. I hope that you will live to touch the grass, feel the sunshine and give your mother the biggest hug you can ever give, outside prison bars, walls and glass panels one day.

Read also:

Happy birthday Vui Kong: May the candles of life continue burning

I believe in second chances

Dear Vui Kong

Vui Kong, you’re just a child to me

Second chances

A letter to Vui Kong

Happy Birthday, Vui Kong