Latest: Singapore single mother awaits death row in Malaysia for drug trafficking. On the pretext of a business trip to China, Iqah was handed a suitcase containing heroin arranged by her Nigerian boyfriend and was arrested by Malaysian Immigration. A campaign is underway to raise funds for the appeal. To find out more, read

We have also heard that since Vui Kong's appeal started, there has been an unofficial stay of execution for all prisoners on death row in Changi Prison, pending the decision of the court on Yong's case. As the case has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal, we anticipate a Changi gallows bloodbath in a scale not seen since the Pulau Senang uprising in 1965 when 18 men were convicted of murder and hanged in a single Friday morning.

Singapore, which routinely persecute dissenters and critics, continue to hang young drug runners while at the same time work closely with Burmese military generals, and has invested billions in business ties with Burma, one of the biggest heroin manufacturing countries the world.


If you know someone who's charged in a capital case, received the death sentence, or is on death row in Singapore and if you have have your side of the story to tell, contact us at sgdeathpenalty [at]

Friday, January 22, 2010

Death penalty awareness campaign

Death penalty awareness campaign

Location: Pasir Ris Central
Date: 22 Jan 10

The truth about the mandatory death sentence is that it is a law that gives the offender no chance of requital, and Singapore is one of the few countries left in the world that continue to religiously execute drugs offenders.

When people realise how unfair such a law is, they will think twice about callously supporting the mandatory death penalty. Death should never be mandatory. Even murderers sometime get a chance to be convicted for manslaughter, which carries life imprisonment, why not drug traffickers?

In our outdoor campaign today at Pasir Ris Central we received some questions and feedback from the public.

"Is this an anti-drug campaign?"
This is a campaign to bring forth awareness on the issue of mandatory death sentence and the death penalty in general.

"Is this a pro-death penalty campaign?"
We all know too well there is no need for a campaign like that in pro-death penalty Singapore.

"How can we help?"
Step forward, come down to our activities, contact us. Help us with our campaign. Put this up on your blog and Facebook. Let people know about Yong Vui Kong. Educate yourself on the mandatory death penalty issue to know just how unfair it is for convicted drug traffickers.

"Do you guys get paid for this?"
We don't, but donations are welcomed.

"Are you from the Singapore Police Force?"
They are busy with other matters, such as arresting teenage drug offenders.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Mandatory Death Penalty – views from young S’poreans

TOC TV takes to the street to ask young Singaporeans what they think about the mandatory death sentence. You may be surprised to know that many people, even those in the legal circle do not know that such a law exists.

This is the reason why an educational campaign is so important, because the truth about mandatory sentencing is that it is a law that gives the offender no chance of requital, and Singapore is one of the few countries left in the world that continue to religiously execute drugs offenders.

When people realise how unfair such a law is, they will think twice about callously supporting the mandatory death penalty. Death should never be mandatory. Even murderers sometime get a chance to be convicted for manslaughter, which carries life imprisonment, why not drug traffickers?

4 Feb 10 Update:
TOC interviews NUS law students on the mandatory death penalty. Most of the students interviewed knows what the mandatory death penalty carries, and find the law to be overly heavy to the convicted, especially for drug traffickers. Their responses are a stark contrast to the man on the street, because information on the implication of mandatory sentencing is not readily available, and practically never discussed in the mainstream media.

People cannot take a stand on something they never heard about, and the mainstream media have a moral obligation to inform the general public about this issue because any judicial execution in Singapore is carried out in the name of every Singapore citizen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

TOC Editorial: A hint of assertiveness

TOC Editorial: A hint of assertiveness

The Court of Appeals’ Yong Vui Kong ruling could signal a change in criminal jurisprudence

The Court of Appeals’ surprisingly liberal ruling on the Yong Vui Kong case, delivered in a written judgment on 31st December 2009 by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, is a welcome – if overdue – step in the right direction. Since Chief Justice Chan’s ascension to the Supreme Court in 2006, there have been indications that he was moving the judiciary away from his predecessor Yong Pung How’s single-minded focus on speed in disposing cases and his rigid adherence to precedence, an approach which some have argued prioritised efficiency over justice.

In this regard the Yong Vui Kong ruling is the clearest sign of a new direction in criminal jurisprudence. In December 2009, a High Court judge unexpectedly stayed the execution of a convicted drug mule just days before the sentence was supposed to carried out so that the latter could appeal his sentence to the Court of Appeals, despite already having his petition for clemency denied by the President. Over the state prosecution’s objections, the Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the High Court judge’s decision and allowed the plaintiff to proceed with his appeal.

The Chan court’s reasoning on its decision reeks of liberal sentiment. One notable departure from the Yong court was that the Chan court in effect gave the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt, by accepting the argument that the plaintiff did not understand his legal options when he withdrew his appeal to the Court of Appeals in April 2009 before it could even be considered. It is quite likely that the Yong court, given its usual impatience with such human lapses, might have dismissed the present case on that pretext alone.

The second significant departure was the Chan court’s readiness to question the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty by hinting that it might be receptive to arguments against the usual precedents on this issue. In doing so, the Chan court rejected one of the state prosecution’s favourite arguments, that putting off the execution would open the “floodgates” to abuses of the judiciary process. The court made it clear that it was in the public interest to consider the appeal. This stay of execution from the judiciary has already given renewed momentum to anti-death penalty activists in Singapore.

The third aspect was an unusually firm assertion of judiciary prerogative in the face of the executive branch’s demand for the court not to obstruct the execution. Significantly, the Chan court dismissed the prosecution’s argument that it had no jurisdiction over a case that had already been decided by a lower court, reasserting its privilege to re-try cases to correct a possible “miscarriage of justice”. In a country where appeals to the highest court in the land are rare and granting of appeals even rarer, this could set a more humane tone for a system that usually brooked no questioning of its judgments. The court also declared that, regardless of whether the President concurred in the judiciary’s stay of execution, it would have been unacceptable for the state to carry out the execution while the case was still ongoing.

Despite these positive developments, some caution is in order. The judgment appears to have been triggered in large measure by what might have been seen as an unwarranted intrusion by the executive into the judiciary’s prerogative and it remains to be seen whether the court will actually strike down the mandatory death penalty. Furthermore, the ruling is scant indication that the court would behave similarly in political cases against the ruling party. Still, the Yong Vui Kong ruling might prove to be a turning point in criminal jurisprudence in Singapore, something which would be enough to merit Chief Justice Chan the International Jurists Award he was given by his global peers in November 2009.

Photo from the Straits Times

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mongolia moratorium on executions

Mongolia leader calls for end to death penalty

Mongolia's president has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, although changing the law to implement a permanent ban on executions will still have to pass Mongolia's opposition-dominated parliament.

Rights groups welcomed the remarks by Elbegdorj Tsakhia on Thursday, hailing the move as a step toward outlawing executions.

Citing two recent cases Elbegdorj said "the state would have killed innocent citizens" if the appeals courts had not overturned death sentences and dropped them altogether....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

'In the interest of justice' for court to right judicial wrongs

Today Online article

SINGAPORE - Whose responsibility is it to put right miscarriages of justice, if ever there are any - the judiciary or the President?

In possibly the most far-reaching ruling on this matter the Supreme Court has made, the three-judge Court of Appeal - comprising Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, Justice VK Rajah and Justice Andrew Phang - has said it was "in the interest of justice" for the court to have that power.

It is possible, for example, that a conviction here may one day be confronted with new evidence - or "essentially an error in the judicial process" - and the three judges said it was "reasonable to assume that the court is better placed to evaluate the merit of the new evidence", rather than rely on the Executive.

Above all, an appellant in a criminal case - even one who is facing the death penalty - is entitled to raise all defences available in law.

The issue of whether the court can review its decisions has arisen in a couple of recent cases, most notably that involving convicted Malaysian drug mule Yong Vui Kong.

And the Court of Appeal's comments - in a 21-page grounds of decision, which MediaCorp obtained a copy of - come nearly a month after it shot down a claim made by the Attorney General's (AG) Chambers that the High Court had no authority to put off Yong's execution.

The 21-year-old, who was sentenced to death in November last year for trafficking 47g of heroin, was to be hanged in December after his clemency plea was rejected by the President.

But days before the sentence was to be carried out, defence lawyer M Ravi successfully sought a stay of execution from the High Court - a decision the AG's Chambers had opposed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaswant Singh argued that granting a stay of execution would open the floodgates and allow for abuse of the judicial process.

In the judges' view, according to the document, the "finality principle" should not be applied strictly in criminal cases "where the life or liberty of the accused is at stake as it would subvert the true value of the judicial process" which is to ensure as far as possible that "the guilty are convicted and the innocent are acquitted".

Similarly, they also believed the floodgates argument "should not be allowed to wash away both the guilty and the innocent".

"In our view the public interest in having finality in court proceedings could not possibly outweigh the public interesting in determining whether or not the mandatory death sentence was constitutional under the Constitution," wrote Chief Justice Chan.

"The developments referred to by counsel, new or old, may or may not be relevant in the Singapore context, but due process requires us to hear the appeal in the present case."

Yong had originally filed an appeal against the conviction and sentence but in April last year he instructed his then-lawyers to withdraw it for religious reasons.

At that time, he had embraced Buddhism while in prison and wanted to own up to what he had done.

Yong's next appeal date will be heard at the High Court sometime in March.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Opinion piece: Why I support the death penalty and a second chance for Yong Vui Kong

Letter from Mr Marcus Lee to The Online Citizen on the death penalty issue.

In any debate, it is tempting to want simply to win the argument. I believe the more important goal is to learn how to make our society a better place. I hope my letter has been of some educational value. At the end of the day, all we want is for Yong and other drug traffickers to receive sentences they truly deserve.

Why I support the death penalty and a second chance for Yong Vui Kong