Affairs, Opinion

Death In Your Name And Mine

yvkYong Vui Keng, twenty one years of age, arrested for trafficking 47g of heroin in June 2007 and sentenced to death in November 2007. He was supposed to have been hanged last Friday, 4 December 2009, but was granted a rare stay on execution pending an appeal. The Court of Appeal is scheduled for tomorrow, 8 December 2009 at 10 am.

These are just facts, and the law looks at all cases in black and white. I know the feeling of standing before a judge when I was in the Subordinate Courts recently regarding a traffic offence, it is a belittling experience and one of awful resignation as you wait for justice to be meted out.

What’s at stake here however, is not a fine or a jail term, but Vui Kong’s life, as the penalty for drug trafficking in Singapore is death. It is a well known fact, so why should this particular individual be worthy of your time in debating whether or not the death penalty is proper justice?

Honestly? I have no compelling intellectual argument, various online debate have made them. You can read them here and here. What I do know of, is compassion and grace, both of which I am familiar with because we’ve all done things that deserve the full brunt of justice and punishment, but we’ve gotten away with much less.

As I read Vui Kong’s story, my heart is not even in knots, and quite honestly, I don’t even know this person. But when I look at him, and examine my own life, the opportunities I had verses the trials that he had to go through, that ultimately led him going down the path of crime that culminates in him paying for it with his life, I realise, we all have the capacity to make the same mistake as he did. And if I do believe that he has repented, where then is there room in the law for things such as compassion and grace?

I’m not angry with the state, I recognise the law is the law and maybe one day it will change, or maybe it will never. I’m gladdened that Vui Kong seems to have found some sort of peace, though who am I to speak for him and what he and his family are going through. But.. I wish that there was another way out of this, as opposed to the swift justice of death. Don’t we all deserve a second chance? Are some mistakes really that grievous that the State cannot forgive, or as one of the Online Citizen’s posts pointed out:

When the State brings its criminal jurisdiction to bear, it acts on behalf of you and me. If Vui Kong is hanged, he will be hanged in your name and mine.

There don’t seem to be any petitions to sign, but even then.. that seems somewhat futile considering the time frame of all that’s happening. Vui Kong isn’t a one-off case, this is what goes on every day, people break the law and pay the price. I just hope by reading this, we can improve the system if it is indeed faulty.

In closing, there is a video to understand the circumstances in which Vui Kong grew up in and walked down the path he walked.

Vui Kong’s story from Lianain Films on Vimeo.