Contemplating life in the shadow of death

Modified 28 Apr 2011, 1:09 am

your say 'We hope your message will reach the hearts of those who want punitive measures but do not know what it means.'

Letter from death row: Me and my life

Flabbergasted: We have had mandatory sentencing for drug trafficking in Singapore and Malaysia for decades. It is academic to debate how it has reduced what might otherwise have been a much larger problem with drug abuse or the sorry tales of individuals caught. Instead, very useful study could be made of the individual profile and role in the criminal organisation of those who are caught and hanged.

But I do not see public disclosure that these studies are undertaken in determining policy effectiveness. The true test of whether our drug laws are working is whether they are netting the individuals behind the mules and the real criminal organisations in the background. If they have not, then our deterrent effort is not well-directed, because the real criminals will not be deterred by the demise of their mules.

If we understand this problem, it will not weaken the position of the authorities if judiciary is allowed flexibility in sentencing, instead of mandatory death.

I am only a little less sorry for judges who preside over cases such as this, even if this issue does not trouble them. As a person, as an individual, all is sublimated. The only law is the letter of the law, when that is all the discretionary authority you are allowed. Judges in these cases can immerse themselves in the honourability of duty done, or the detachment of a lack of choice in sentencing.

However you look at it, the compassion and discretion which should complement the writ of law is absent. How many now have accepted atrocities have been committed by Germans and many other nations in the same name, of performing one's duty, or following orders.

Of course, the comparison is not relevant, but the principle is. The judiciary must be allowed some degree of discretion in sentencing, otherwise, without compassion, justice can become separated from law and we might as well install an encyclopaedic legal robot in court.

Baronhawk: Nothing like the taste of death to bring the tales of life to fore the gory jolly hangman's truth that seeks us all by far but to be plucked young way before time. Tis' a cruel injustice brought upon by crueler jest the poverty adled livelihood that plague our youth Whither, whether, whatever though the fact is drugs do hurt.

Petestop: Not that I agree that a person's life is for another human to take. However, I wonder, if it is not for the death sentence, would this youngster's life be turned around? In our country, the mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking is well-publicised, as well as in Singapore. In fact, if you take the plane to Singapore, they will broadcast the announcement about the mandatory death sentence.

Therefore, the continued ignorance or the choice to ignore this is just utter stupidity, and people pay dearly for it with their life. I see at airports like in San Francisco, they have a bin for you to dispose of drugs before you pass immigration and subject to the laws of that country. A lot more education towards preventing people facing this mandatory sentence still needs to be done.

Sshhh: Drug trafficking is worst than a single murder case. It helps to kill millions human being. What will happen if all drug traffickers wrote such letters? Should all of them be pardon for the crime? Then drug dealers will move freely to sell drugs to our kids. This is a lesson for all of us to teach our children not to get involved with crime.

Thuey: Too bad that only when facing the end, one turns to religion in hope for salvation. He should have realised that life is precious not only to oneself, but to everyone. One can see the indirect killings of lives by drug trafficking.

The lives that are sacrificed, from policemen, soldiers, to the normal civilians who give their lives to save others by fighting crimes, protecting the innocent or the weak - they forfeit their lives with no regrets and we hold them in the highest honour and respect. Life is no less precious to them than everyone else.

If the death penalty is not workable solution for criminals, I see it as an insult to the heroes who have given their lives. If one is truly sorry, be brave and face the death like the fallen heroes, for your death will help others to live - by reminding other criminals to change and repent before it is too late. Sacrifice is a virtue too.

We can live: Vui Kong, the candles are burning strongly in Singapore and Malaysia. Even in Malaysia, the death penalty is still in force and we hope your message will reach the hearts of those who want punitive measures but do not know what it means.

Yes, crime does not pay, but punishment hardly reforms as well. There's always going to be drug trafficking in Malaysia and Singapore and there's always people dupe into drug trafficking. Will a statistic like Yong Vui Kong ever make a difference in deterring drug trafficking or will it gain scrutiny from NGOs and the international community?

Only governments will know. The only message here I see is to appease the proponents of capital punishment and politicians who are seen as tough on crime. But are they appeased?

MSGboy: Let's be realistic - there is no way the Singapore president will order clemency as it will set a dangerous precedence for others. Better late than never to realise one's mistakes in life, but such is life that punishment needs to be bestowed on you. Make the most of your remaining time.

Let the world know through your letters your thoughts and that great strength is needed to overcome any trials and tribulations that is thrown to you. Keep your head held high and God be with you.

Bruce: Yong's letter is beautiful and touching. I hope Singapore can give a young man who made a slip a second chance, give him life imprisonment. This person can turn out to be an excellent ambassador to turn youth away from drugs in our hate-filled world. He could be going around preaching love around the world, if allowed to live. I hope he is spared. Twenty-years in prison would be good enough.

One Hand Cover the Sky: It is indeed very sad to read about Vui Kong's predicament. As a born-again Buddhist, he seems to accept that all this is due to his bad karma in this life. He cannot escape from his own karma. I pray that his karma will change for the better and hope for a miracle to happen.

But Vui Kong, whatever the outcome of your appeals, just accept it calmly in your heart. As the Chinese saying goes, "Eighteen years later, you be a good man again."

Anonymous_400d: Vui Kong, don't give up. We all pray for the Singapore president's clemency to be granted to you. Everyone makes mistakes in their lives without exception - some big, some small.

No matter how big the mistake is, I believe no one has the right to take away the life of another except God almighty. Our law does not even allow euthanasia or suicide when the person decides he does not want to live on anymore.

In cases of serious offences like drug trafficking, murder, etc, where the law provides for mandatory death sentence, I suggest instead, they should be sentenced to life imprisonment and given a second chance in life.

Loyal Malaysian: Your letter come across as composed and calm. I supposed that's attitude to take - the matter of clemency is out of your ability to influence. I will pray that the President of Singapore shall grant you clemency - perhaps commute it to life imprisonment.

You have indicated your willingness to stay in prison and continue some dhamma work there. Perhaps that will be option agreeable to the Singapore authorities as it means you will still be paying penance for the mistake you made.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now .