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For the first time in two years since his incarceration, Malaysian prisoner Yong Vui Kong is expected to receive a visitor from the Malaysian High Commissioner’s office in Singapore later today.
It is uncertain whether the Commissioner himself or a representative from the his office will be dropping in on the 22-year old in Changi prison.
Malaysia has largely kept silent on his sentence and pending execution for a drug trafficking offence in 2007 when he was barely 19.
But a ray of hope for Yong flickered yesterday, when his Singaporean lawyer M. Ravi received a telephone call from the Commissioner’s office, requesting an “urgent” meeting regarding the case.
Ravi, (right) an established human rights lawyer in Singapore, told Malaysiakini that Commissioner Md Hussin Nayan wanted a briefing on the latest developments of the case at 10am tomorrow (today).
“I am hopeful that Malaysia would intervene in this matter and I will explain in detail about the legal consequences of this case, which is important to Malaysia, and the clemency petition to commute Yong’s death sentence,” said the lawyer, who is representing Yong on a pro-bono basis.
Flawed legal process
“The crux of the issue is that a Malaysian citizen has been denied clemency, and the whole process is flawed and illegal,” he added.
Ravi was referring to a senior law officer’s comment that it is not the Attorney-General but cabinet which makes a decision on this matter. Later, President SR Nathan had rejected the petition.
However, Yong’s scheduled hanging in December last year was delayed when his lawyer applied for a stay of execution.
Ravi thanked Malaysiakini for highlighting the issue in its news portal as a series of articles recently had sparked the interest of the Malaysian government and Singaporean online media to look further into the case
“I am prepared to give my fullest cooperation to assist the Malaysian government to act in the rightful manner and best interest of my client,” he added.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz ruffled the legal community’s feathers when he said he was unaware of Yong’s case, and since it happened in Singapore, Malaysia will not interfere in its legal process.
Lawyers working on the death penalty issue and Yong’s case had expressed ‘shock and astonishment’ that Nazri, the de facto law minister, could wash his hands of the matter.
However, Param Curamasamy, former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said despite Nazri’s “irrational public statements,” he cannot be faulted on this particular issue.
He said this is because Asean, of which Malaysia is a member, had a pact not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
Moreover, in both countries – Malaysia and Singapore – drug traffickers face the mandatory death sentence.